Przewalski’s Horse

Przewalski's Horse Introduction:

Most horses are fully domesticated, meaning that they live alongside humans and are more at home in a barn or a stable than out on the open grasslands. Some horses, such as the American mustang, are feral—meaning that they were once domesticated and now live in the wild. Unlike all other horses, the Przewalski’s horse is truly wild, meaning that they have never been domesticated. This rare species of horse is native to the grassy steppes of Central Asia, but its population has been dwindling dramatically over the last century. Named after the Russian explorer, geographer, and discoverer of multiple unique animal species Nikolay Przhevalsky, the Przewalski’s horse looks like a shorter and stockier version of the slender domestic horse. This stocky build (as well as a thick coat of coarse hair) makes the Przewalski’s horse better suited for a life out on the harsh and barren steppe. All Przewalski’s horses are a dun color, with short, dark brown manes and darker-colored feet. Their hooves are significantly thicker and tougher than those of domesticated horses, allowing them to traverse terrain easily without horseshoes. Przewalski’s horses travel in groups of about five to fifteen horses, led by a mature stallion. The stallion protects his mares and their foals, and they wander in search of grass and vegetation to eat. They tend to favor different plant species at different times of year. Przewalski’s horses have few modern predators (aside from humans) but they are sometimes preyed upon by the Himalayan wolf. Some scientists believe, based on DNA from skeletal evidence, that the Przewalski’s horse was once domesticated by the ancient Botai people. If this was the case, these domesticated Przewalski’s horses soon returned to a feral state. Competition with domestic livestock for territory, harsh winters, and human activity led to the eventual end of wild populations of Przewalski’s horse in the 1960s. But Przewalski’s horses that were bred in captivity have since been reintroduced to their natural habitat, where, despite the genetic bottleneck, they have been holding on strong.

Keywords to learn

Steppe: a large area of flat unforested grassland.

Stallion: a male horse.


About Me:

Hey Kids, my name is Paz the Przewalski’s horse  and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

Przewalski's Horse Data:

  • Order: Perissodactyla.
  • Lifespan: 20–30 years.
  • Class: Mammalia.
  • Scientific Name: Equus ferus przewalskii.
  • Mass: 200kg–300kg (440lbs–661lbs).
  • Length: 2.16m (7ft).
  • Region found: Mongolia.
  • Population Status: Endangered.
  • Current population trend: Declining.
  • Diet: Herbivorous.
  • Sexual maturity: 2 years.

 

Przewalski’s horse is a survivor and an interesting example of resistance to domestication. Unlike their tamed cousins, Przewalski’s horses are perfectly suited to life on the hard steppe. Hopefully their current population will survive with a little help from humanity.

 

Now that you know more about the Przewalski’s horse by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.

Przewalski's Horse Facts for Kids:

  • # 1. Przewalski’s horses appear in cave art dating back as far as 20,000 years.
  • # 2. Przewalski’s horses have 66 chromosomes, two more than domestic horses.
  • # 3. Every Przewalski’s horse alive today is descended from 12 individuals.
  • # 4. The first Przewalski’s horse clone was born in 2020.
  • # 5. Przewalski’s horses have been introduced to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Q&A Corner

  • # 1. How did Przewalski’s horse get its name?
  • # 2. Have Przewalski’s horses been domesticated?
  • # 3. Are there any wild Przewalski’s horses left?
  • # 4. What makes the hooves of a Przewalski’s horse special?
  • # 5. What class do Przewalski’s horses belong to?

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