Przewalski’s Horse Fact File
The Przewalski’s horse is more stockily built than domesticated horses with its short muscular body. They have a beige to reddish-brown coat that is short in the summer and longer in the winter with a paler belly. They have a long dark stripe on their back. They are more pot bellied than domestic horses and have a short spiky mane. Przewalski’s horses have faintly striped legs and a long tail.
The average length of the Przewalski horse is 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) with the tail measuring about 90 cms (3 ft). They stand about 1.2 to 1.5 metres (4 to 4.8 ft) at shoulder height and weigh around 350 kgs (770 pounds).
Przewalski’s horses are herbivores and they eat grasses, plants, fruit, bark, buds and other vegetation.
They are grazers and will spend a lot of the day moving around eating grass.
Equus ferus przewalskii
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Traditionally these horses were found from Manchuria to Spain. However their population dwindled and they were classified as extinct in the wild until 2008. Reintroductions were made into the wild from captive populations into China, Mongolia and Kazakstan in Asia, and they have now been reclassified as endangered.
Their habitats include steppe (grassland habitats that undergo greater changes in season and temperature), grassy deserts and plains.
Foals are born after an eleven month gestation period. The foal weighs 30kg (66lbs) at birth.
The female will give birth to one foal. They will be up and moving with the herd in just 30 minutes to avoid predators. They remain with their mother until sexual maturity.
Females reach sexual maturity at around three years of age while the males will usually start to breed at about five years of age.
They are considered to be a wild horse because it is thought that they have never been successfully domesticated and able to be ridden.
Przewalski’s horses live in a herd. Most herds consist of a dominant male and a number of females along with their foals. They work as a group for safety taking turns to sleep at night so they can alert the sleeping animal’s if a predator approaches.
Single males will sometimes live alone or they form bachelor herds and roam together with other males.
The main predator of the Przewalski’s wild horse is wolves.
Stallions practice a form of scent marking and will leave piles of dung along the routes that they travel so that they can warn other males of their presence. Also when a female urinates, the stallion will often urinate in the same place to signal her membership in the herd to other males. The stallions will often sniff the dung piles to confirm scent markings.
Przewalski’s horses have 66 chromosomes while domestic horses only have 64, the two can breed and produce offspring that have 65 chromosomes.
They have never been tamed for riding, which means that they are the last truly wild horse that is still in existence.
The Mongolian name for these horses is “takhi”, which means “spirit”. Takhi are a symbol of their national heritage.
They are also known as the Mongolian wild horse or Takhi. Takhi means ‘spirit’ in Mongolian.
The Przewalski’s wild horse was not scientifically described until 1881.
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King, S.R.B., Boyd, L., Zimmermann, W. & Kendall, B.E. 2015. Equus ferus ssp. przewalskii (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T7961A97205530. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T7961A45172099.en. Downloaded on 22 May 2020.
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