What Are the Biotic and Abiotic Factors of the Zebra?

Written by alicia prince
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What Are the Biotic and Abiotic Factors of the Zebra?
Zebras belong to the horse family, or Equidae. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

"Biotic" is defined as anything pertaining to or produced by a living organism whereas "abiotic" is a nonliving physical factor of an ecosystem. Even the waste and remains of living creatures are considered biotic -- so, there are no abiotic factors of a zebra although the zebra does exist alongside abiotic elements in its environment.

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Physical Characteristics

A zebra's body resembles that of a horse although their tails and mane vary somewhat. Zebras have long, flat teeth and eat a variety of grasses. A zebra's coat is a source of camouflage, and its shiny fibres also dissipate over 70 per cent of incoming heat. Three species of zebra live in Africa -- the Burchell's zebra, the Grevy's zebra and the Equus zebra.


Although these three species have similar colourings, they vary slightly in size and habitat. The Burchell's zebra, or common zebra, inhabits the savannahs and grasslands of the Serengeti plains. Grevy's zebras, which are slightly larger than Burchell's, are mainly found in Northern areas of Kenya. Equus Zebras, also known as mountain zebras, are considered a threatened species and live mainly in the deserts and semi-deserts of Southwestern Africa. The weather, dirt, rocks and stones of these environments are the only abiotic factors in a zebra's environment.

Predators and Threats

Zebras are a main part of the food chains of several predators, including lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs. Despite this, zebras are known to encircle attacking predators to counter the attack and scare the predators away. Zebras will also encircle members of the herd that are injured, in hopes of preventing another attack.


Zebra herds are actually highly structured social systems, led by one alpha male stallion. When a new foal is born, the mother keeps the foal completely separate from the herd until the foal has learnt to recognise her by voice, sight and smell. Male foals are also close to their fathers but leave the family group between the ages of 1 and 4 to join all male groups until they are strong enough to head a family.

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