Zebras are known for their resemblance to horses, but with bold, black-and-white stripes all over their bodies. They have long faces and necks, barrel-shaped chests, strong legs and pointed hooves. No two zebras have the same stripe pattern.
Unlike other zebras, Hartmann's mountain zebras have vertical stripes on their neck and torso and horizontal stripes on their backside. They also have white, non-striped bellies. Their coats can sometimes appear reddish; this is due to their habit of rolling around in dirt and mud. Hartmann's mountain zebras are smaller than plains or Grévy's zebras.
Hartmann’s zebras are one of the smaller members of the zebra family, standing at 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters) tall, with an average body length between 6 to 8 ½ feet (2-2.6 meters). Adults weigh between 450-820 pounds (204-372 kilograms).
Males and females are about the same size, and there are few physical differences between them.
Hartmann’s mountain zebras are herbivores. In the wild, they graze and browse for grasses, shrubs and leaves to eat. At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, they eat a diet of hay, grass, pellets and browse (leafy branches).
Hartmann’s mountain zebras are known to take dust baths, rolling around vigorously in dust and mud, which clings to their fur. This helps keep their skin cool and protected from insects. After the zebras leave the area, the shallow depressions left in the ground become mini-habitat areas for native vegetation, effectively making the zebras ecosystem engineers.
Hartmann’s mountain zebras are polygynous, forming breeding herds with one stallion and two to five mares, along with their foals. Mountain zebras are also known to form bachelor herds, in which several young male zebras will travel together until they form their own breeding herd. Females typically reach sexual maturity around 2 to 3 years of age, while males become sexually mature around age 4 or 5.
Mares have a gestation period of about 12 months, after which they give birth to a single foal. After they are first born, foals weigh about 55 pounds, and are capable of standing and walking in just a few hours.
Foals rely on their mothers for protection. They are weaned from their mother’s milk after about 10 months, although they will begin to eat grasses after about 2-3 months. After about fourteen months, foals are usually expelled from the herds; males will typically join a bachelor group, while females will find a bachelor male and pair up to form a new herd.