Zebras are beautiful animals. They have the same majestic posture and stance as horses, their Equidae cousins. But they also have some unique features of their own. The most notable if which are their stripes. We know that a group of horses is called a herd, but what is a group of Zebras called? Is it the same or do they have a different collective noun? or many?
What Is A Group Of Zebras Called?
A group of zebras, like horses, is sometimes called a herd, but there are some far more interesting collective nouns also used that apply only to zebras. The most interesting collective noun for a zebra is ‘dazzle‘ which is commonly used, but they are also collectively known as a ‘zeal‘.
A herd of zebra is the most common term used in Africa, where the animals are found in the wild. A dazzle of zebra is a term that was coined in the early 1900s. It refers to the animals’ striped coat, which can appear to be dazzling when seen in a large group. A mob of zebra is another term used in Africa, specifically for a group of wild zebras but this is not well documented.
Another name for the actual group construct of a zebra community is harem, as in a harem of zebras. Rather than protecting an area of land or territory, the dominant male zebra defends their harem.
Where Do These Collective Nouns Come From?
Herd – This is a common term used for many land animals that group together, live and travel together. Particularly prey and livestock animals that group together in large quantities.
Dazzle – The term dazzle came about during the early 1900s, when it was first suggested that the stripes of zebra in a herd may confuse or ‘dazzle’ predators. As some predators such as big cats don’t have great depth perception, the strips of zebras in a group can confuse predators and prevent them from picking out a single zebra in a crowd. The effect is particularly dazzling when the group of zebra are running.
Zeal – The roots of the relevancy of this collective noun with zebras is unclear. However, the word zeal is often used in the context of enthusiasm, vitality and spirit. All things that may be envisioned when observing a group of zebra on the move. It is a widely used term now, and has even been used within the title of books (A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns) and music albums (That Zebra Zeal, by Thomas NÖla).
Harem – This is the group term used to describe the social structure of a zebra community. A Harem consists of a dominant male, a few breeding females and all of their young. Competition between competing males can be very violent.
What Are A Group Of Baby Zebras Called?
There is no specific collective noun for a group of young, baby zebras. They share the same group naming as their older family members. Together, baby zebras are known as foals, but gender specific terms also exist. Baby females are called fillys, and baby males are called colts.
The lack of a specific collective noun may be in part, because females only give birth to one foal every 2 to 3 years. Without the presence of multiple foal births like twins or triplets, there is less need for a collective noun.
Are There Any Other Animals That We Refer To In A Similar Way
Yes, there are a few other animals that we refer to in a similar way. A pride of lions, a parliament of owls, and a murder of crows are all groups of animals that are commonly referred to using collective nouns. Each term is unique and evokes the characteristics of the animals it represents. It’s always interesting to learn about the different names we use for groups of animals!
How Sociable Are Zebras?
Zebras are social animals that live in herds or harems of anywhere from a few dozen to several hundred individuals. The composition of a zebra herd varies depending on the time of year and the habitat, but generally contains more females than males. Zebras form close relationships with others in their herd and communicate using a variety of vocalizations, body language, and scent signals.
Different species have different social and hierarchal behaviours. Groups of Grevy’s or Imperial Zebra found in the east of Africa are very open, whereas groups of Plains Zebra and Mountain Zebra exert more control over their populations. These two species tend to have a strong female hierarchy, of up to 6 or so breeding females, one dominant male, and all their young offspring. This group structure is known as a harem and is defended fiercely by the dominant male.
Some species have also been known to be very protective of their injured or targeted group members. They are known to circle their wounded and display group protective behaviour to try and discourage a predator. This does, of course depend on the predator.
Competition Between Groups Of Zebras
The forming of a harem of zebras is a very competitive and often violent affair. When young males (Colts) leave their original heard they do so with the intent of creating their own group. They leave their original herd around 2 years old, and by 4 years old, at an age of sexual maturity they start looking to form their own group. They do this by approaching other herds, intent on luring females away with them to form their own group.
This can result in violent combat as the dominant stallion of the existing hareem doesn’t give up their females lightly. Sometimes there is more than one competing Colt trying to poach females, and eventually they are able to lure some away. A female will become loyal to a male if they are able to mount and impregnate them.
Why Do Zebra Live In Groups?
Zebras live in groups for many reasons, and one of the biggest is the protection if offers from the very many predators they have. A group of zebras is more likely to spot a predator coming, and they can also confuse the predator by running in different directions. The stripes on each zebra help to break up the shape of the animal, making it harder for the predator to pick out an individual zebra.
Grouping together also allows zebras to share food and information. Zebras, like horses, also sleep standing up. In the wild, this is something best done in the protection of a group.
Zebras are very adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats, from dry deserts to lush grasslands. However, they prefer areas with plenty of water and vegetation, as this provides them with the food and shelter they need to thrive.
Facts About Groups Of Zebra
- Zebras are considered to be some of the most social animals in the animal kingdom. Herds can consist of anywhere from 10-100 zebras, though the average size is around 20-30.
- Male zebras are responsible for defending the herd from predators, while the females take care of the young.
- Herds typically stick together and move around as a unit, but they will also split up into smaller groups when necessary.
- Zebras are grazers and eat mostly grasses, so they need to be able to move around a lot in order to find food.
- The stripes on zebras isn’t just for looks – they actually help camouflage the animals from predators.