Closely related to horses and donkeys, the zebra (subgenuses Hippotigris and Dolichohippus) is best known for its black and white striped body. In fact, zebra stripe patterns are unique to each individual. These stripes are believed to be camouflage devices that help zebras hide well in the grass. Zebras are herbivorous and primarily eat a variety of grasses. They are also known to eat shrubs, herbs, twigs, leaves and bark.
Each species of zebra has a different general pattern of stripes. The Grevy’s zebra has very thin stripes. The mountain zebra has vertical stripes on its neck and torso, but horizontal stripes on its haunches. Some subspecies of plains zebras have brownish “shadow” stripes between the black stripes, according to the San Diego Zoo. Each zebra’s stripes are unique. Just as no two human fingerprints are alike, no two zebras have the same stripe pattern.
Zebras have several ways they communicate with one another. Facial expressions, such as wide-open eyes or bared teeth, all mean something. They also bark, bray, snort or huff to get their point across. Even the position of their ears can signal their feelings, according to the San Diego Zoo. For example, ears flattened back means trouble. Another habit of zebras is mutual grooming, which they do to strengthen their bonds with each other.