Can Zebras And Horses Mate?

Last Updated on April 4, 2022 by Urska

We all know that zebras are stripy horses, right? Well, not exactly! While genetically they are very closely related, the zebra is a different subspecies to the horse. But can zebras and horses mate? And what would happen if they did?

What Is The Difference Between A Zebra And A Horse?

To determine whether zebras and horses can mate, we need a little recap on our equine genetics. Horses and zebras belong to the genus Equus, along with donkeys and asses. A genus is a class of animals with similar traits, qualities, or features.

Within this genus are different species – horses, donkeys, zebras, and asses. So, although horses look very much like zebras, they are actually a different species. Each species has evolved to develop different characteristics, which are passed on genetically. Here are the main differences between a zebra and a horse

What Is The Difference Between A Zebra And A Horse
  • Color

It may seem obvious, but zebras are a very different color to horses! Zebras have a distinctive black and white striped coat. This is an adaptation to keep them safe from predators, as it is thought that lions and tigers find it difficult to spot the stripes amongst long grasses.

Horses have been domesticated for many years, and humans have bred them to develop many different coat colors. In the wild, horses would have blended in with their surroundings in colors such as brown or black. The modern-day horse might struggle to stay in disguise!

  • Size

Zebras are smaller than horses, with limbs which are shorter in proportion to the body than the horse. The zebra cannot run a fast as a horse but is still swift enough to flee from predators.

  • Sound

The zebra can make all the noises we would expect to hear from a horse or donkey. This includes whinnying, braying, snorting, and snuffling.

However, the zebra has an additional noise in its repertoire! Zebras make a distinctive noise which sounds almost like a small dog.  This two-part, high-pitched, yipping sound is called a bark.

  • Hooves

The hooves of a zebra are smaller and more oval than horses hooves. They are also harder, to cope with the rough and rocky terrain.

Can Zebras And Horses Mate?

It is entirely possible for a zebra and a horse to mate, and this can result in a foal if the female becomes pregnant. These two Equus subspecies can successfully produce offspring if they mate, often with very interesting and spectacular results!

Unfortunately, just because they theoretically can mate, it doesn’t mean that they will. It is more common for horses and zebras to be crossbred using artificial insemination. Left to their own devices, it is very rare that they will mate naturally.

Can Zebras And Horses Breed?

So, if they are different species, can zebras and horses mate? As zebras and horses have very similar genetics, it is possible for them to breed, even though they are different subspecies of the genus Equus.

Unfortunately, just because they theoretically can mate, it doesn’t mean that they will. It is more common for horses and zebras to be crossbred using artificial insemination. Left to their own devices, it is very rare that they will mate naturally.

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However, this doesn’t mean we can create a new species of horses crossed with zebras. This is because the foal produced by a zebra and a horse will be a hybrid.

Hybrids are nearly always sterile – this means they are not fertile and cannot produce foals of their own. This is the case with all types of equine hybrids, including mules, which are a donkey crossed with a horse.

What Is A Horse And Zebra Mix Called?

As with any crossbreeding, horse breeders have had a lot of fun thinking up different names for them!

Here are the names for the different types of horses mixed with zebras:

  • Zebroid – This the general name for a zebra crossed with any other type of equine.
  • Zorse, zebrule, or zebra mule – The offspring of a zebra stallion and horse mare.
  • Hebra, zebret, horbra, or a zebrinny – The offspring of a zebra mare and horse stallion.
  • Zony – A fun name for the offspring of a zebra and a pony!

However, it isn’t just zebras that have been bred to make hybrids. For centuries humans have crossed the equine subspecies to make useful and interesting crossbreeds:

  • Mule – The offspring of a horse mare and donkey stallion.
  • Hinny – The offspring of a horse stallion and donkey mare.
What Does A Zebra Horse Look Like

Interestingly, hinnies are not always infertile and are sometimes bred with donkeys or horses to create a new hybrid.

What Does A Zebra Horse Look Like?

It is not always easy to guess what a zebra crossed with a horse will look like. There are over 300 breeds of horse in the world, in a range of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Zebras also come in three different subspecies, so the possibilities are numerous!

A zebra horse, or zorse, will take characteristics from both of its parents. They normally retain the characteristic striped appearance of the zebra, but this will be laid over the base coloring of the horse parent. A zorse from a piebald horse may only be partially striped.

The body shape of a zorse normally takes more after the horse parent than the zebra. It will be have longer legs and an athletic appearance. A zorse will normally have a large head with a long muzzle and large, dark eyes.

The temperament of a zorse is generally more placid than a zebra. However, they are much wilder than a horse, even when raised in captivity. Handling and caring for a zebra hybrid is very tricky and should only be undertaken by experienced horse owners.

Theoretically, it is possible to ride a zorse or break it to harness. But because this hybrid can be very tricky and unpredictable, it is more likely that they are kept as a petting zoo or farm park attraction.

What Is A Horse And Zebra Mix Called

Summary

So, as we have learned, it is possible for a zebra and a horse to mate, and they can produce a foal. However, this foal will be a hybrid, meaning it is infertile and cannot be bred from in the future. For this reason, it is not common to breed zebras with horses.

We would love to hear about your experiences with breeding different horses – have you ever crossed two types like a zebra and a horse? Perhaps you have a few questions you’d like us to answer about hybrid horses? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!

How do zebras mate?

Zebras reproduce by the male mounting and impregnating the female. Pregnant zebra mares give birth of one to two foals within 360 to 390 days after impregnation. Zebra’s have no set breeding season and can mate and give birth anytime throughout the year. The species is native to the savannah grasslands of southern Africa. Zebras live in herds that include one dominant male, many subordinate females and their offspring. Female zebras nurse their young for about 1 year and a half, until they are 16 to 18 months old. Only about half of the offspring are likely to survive into adulthood since the baby zebras are popular prey for big predators. The population has declined rapidly in recent decades due to hunting, habitat loss, and disease.

Can a donkey and zebra have a baby?

Although donkeys are closely related to zebras and both animals belong to the horse family, the chances that a zebra mating with a donkey will result in offspring are slim because the two animals don’t have the same number of chromosomes. However, it still happens. A zebra and donkey hybrids are commonly known as a zenkey, zonkey, a zebrass, or a zedonk. They are normally sterile, same as with the offspring of zebras and horses, and cannot reproduce. Zonkeys can be found in the wild but they’re extremely rare. The majority are found in zoos around the world.

Is a zebra a horse?

A zebra is not a horse. Zebra’s are closely related to horses, but they are not the same species. They’re both members of the Equidae family and can even breed with each other although the offspring is sterile. There are different names for the offspring of zebras and horses, depending on their parents. A baby of a zebra stallion and a horse mare is commonly called a zorse but can sometimes be also referred to as a zebrose, zebrula, zebrule, or zebra mule. The reverse pairing (between a horse stallion and a zebra mare) is more rare and is called a hebra, horsebra, zebret, zebrinny, or zebra hinny. 

Is the zebra black or white?

When you ask whether zebras are black or white, that’s actually a serious question and it has an answer. Zebras are black with white stripes. All the fur grows from follicles that contain the pigment-generating melanocyte cells. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, which gives fur its color. Melanin is found in the skin of all mammals (including humans). It protects skin from the sun and UV radiation, and helps keep the skin healthy. In general, more melanin means darker skin. However, in the white fur, those melanocytes have been deactivated. This implies that black is the default colour of the fur and most scientists describe zebras as black with white stripes.

Why do zebra have stripes?

Zebra stripes have a number of functions. Most scientists agree that the function of a zebra’s stripes is to ward off biting flies, which can carry deadly diseases. But not all scientists are convinced that zebra stripes serve that purpose. Some believe that the stipes provide camouflage by reducing the zebra’s contrast against its surroundings. The stripes may also help zebras blend into their environment by making them appear lighter or darker depending on the light conditions and by creating a pattern that is more difficult to see for big predators, such as tigers or lions. Some scientists believe that stripes are used to communicate between herds. They may also be used as visual aids to identify zebra families. 

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