In this guide, we’ll answer the question:
“What eats zebras?”
First, you’ll find a short summary of what animals eat zebras in the wild and then get a detailed list of zebra predators.
Zebras are African equines with distinctive black-and-white striped coats that share the genus Equus with horses and asses. It is part of the Equidae family under the Perissodactyla order.
There are three living species of zebras: Grévy’s zebra, plains zebra, and mountain zebra. Zebras inhabit eastern and southern Africa and can be found in a variety of habitats such as savannahs, woodlands, shrublands, grasslands, and mountainous areas.
The average lifespan of a zebra is 25 years.
What Eats Zebras?
Animals that eat kangaroos include cheetahs, crocodiles, hyenas, leopards, lions, wild dogs, and humans. A zebra has many natural predators and falls prey to a variety of species.
Cheetahs typically prey on small to medium-sized animals, such as impalas and gazelles, but will also eat zebras when hunting alone.
Even though cheetahs have excellent speed and eyesight, they cannot kill an adult zebra unless hunting in packs. Cheetahs are excellent hunters because of their ability to start, stop, and make sharp turns to capture an adult zebra. They engage their prey in a high-speed chase and kill it with a stranglehold on the neck.
According to National Geographic, “The diet of the Nile crocodile is mainly fish, but it will attack almost anything unfortunate enough to cross its path, including zebras.”
Crocodiles are primarily zebra predators when they catch this mammal drinking from water sources, swimming across a river, or walking along a riverbank. Crocodiles kill zebras by drowning and shaking them violently to break the bones.
Crocodiles are ambush predators with a strong bite force and sharp teeth, making it hard for zebra to escape from their grip.
Although zebras are a more difficult prey for hyenas, these carnivores will still attack this mammal for food. NISEL Ecological Informatics indicates: “To hunt them, the hyenas unite to form a large team.” Typical zebra hunting groups consist of 10–25 hyenas.
Leopards are opportunistic hunters and will attack any grazing animal regardless of its size. Just like crocodiles, leopards are ambush predators and will stealthily pounce on an adult zebra before it gets a chance to react.
Even though leopards have the disadvantage of size, they can quickly kill an adult zebra with a swift bite to the neck. Nonetheless, leopards commonly target young, injured, and ill zebras for food.
Carnivorous African lions are apex predators with unique and calculated hunting strategies that allow them to attack bigger prey, and are prime animals that eat zebras.
A single lion usually targets young, ill, or injured zebras, but when hunting in a pride, they can take down an adult zebra. Hunting in prides improves a lion’s chance of having food and reduces the chances of sustaining injuries.
Even though African wild dogs are small predators, they are excellent hunters because of their ability to maintain high speed for long and high stamina. Usually, wild dogs hunt in a large pack with 6 to 20 group members, allowing them to take down larger mammals, such as zebras.
A wild dog’s hunting strategy that involves circling the prey makes them successful hunters.
Humans eat zebras all throughout the world, including countries like the United States, India, Eastern Africa, and China. In a TIME article, an official from the Food and Drug Administration stated: “Game meat, including zebra meat, can be sold [in the US] as long as the animal from which it is derived is not on the endangered species list.”
What Do Zebras Eat?
Zebras are herbivores that must eat vegetation to survive.
You can visit our other guide on what do zebras eat to find out more about what these mammals feed on for nutrition.
Animals That Eat Zebras Summary
You now know what eats zebras in the wild and which species are the top zebra predators.
As you discovered in this guide, there are about 7 animals that eat zebras in nature. And the inability to fend off attacks from strong predators makes them suitable prey for those animals.
I’m the lead editor and writer for Animal Answer Guide. I enjoy sharing expert knowledge on the various characteristics of common species within the five distinct groups of animals: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles.