When one thinks about Zebras, one simply thinks about a stocky little African horse with a pot belly, a short mane and black and white stripes. But did you know that there are actually a number of  different species of Zebra?

The Mountain and Plains Zebras are distinctly different, genetically speaking and do in point of fact look slightly different! Yes, they all have black and white stripes, and they all look like little ponies with bellies, and they all bray like high pitched donkeys, and yes, every Zebra’s stripe pattern is completely unique, like a fingerprint. But for the keen eyed observer there are definitely differences in size and patterning to be observed between species!

The Mountain Zebra is the smallest of the zebra species, built for climbing with sharp hooves and a more compact body. These Zebra have horse-like ears and a black muzzle and are the only zebra species to have developed a dewlap on their throats. The Mountain Zebra’s striping is wide but closely packed on the body. These stripes extend down the chest and under the front legs but leave most of the lower belly white. Over the neck and hindquarters the Mountain Zebras stripes become much broader and interspersed with larger areas of white. The hind legs horizontal stripes extend high up the hindquarters.

Cape-Mountain-Zebra

The Plains Zebra (otherwise called the Burchells Zebra) is the most common of the zebra species and is larger than the Mountain varieties. It’s ears are bigger and more rounded in shape than the small and horse-like ears of the Mountain Zebra. Like the Mountains Zebra, the Plains Zebra has a black muzzle but it’s striping is far broader. Both the black stripes and white spaces on the Plains Zebra are wider and more interspersed across the body, moving from vertical to horizontal from roughly the middle of the body. Depending on subspecies the horizontal white stripes across the hind quarters can widen considerably or cause the black stripe to fade out or vanish. Plains Zebra are also unique in that in many of the subspecies a more faint brown or grey shadow stripe will develop between black stripes, giving it a tri-colour effect. Their striping continues under their bellies, but unlike the Mountain species, in a number of the Plains subspecies, their leg striping often fades slightly toward the hoof, leaving the lower leg more white.

Plains-Zebra-Variations

here are examples of different plains Zebra stripe variations. (images from: http://www.warrenphotographic.co.uk and http://www.ispyanimals.com)

When it comes to purchasing Zebra skins for rugs, gifts or general home decor, you will only really be able to purchase a Plains or Burchells Zebra skin, or occasionally a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Skin. This is because of restrictions on the hunting and trade of  Cape Mountain Zebra Skins owing to their being on CITES endangered species lists. Fortunately Plains Zebra offer the most variety in terms of pattern and colour making them more interesting for the purposes of decor.

Kottlers specialise in the trade of ethically procured Plains or Burchell’s Zebra Skins, and have done so for the last 116 years. Not only are Kottlers Zebra skins trophy grade but they also conform entirely to CITES standards, come with all the necessary paperwork to ensure a smooth purchase, import/export, shipping and delivery process.

If you would like to purchase a Zebra skin for your home, and you want to be certain it is both excellent quality and ethically acquired, you can speak to a member of the Kottlers team, or go directly to the Kottlers online store.