Widely known for their grace and speed, gazelles are types of antelope which you will normally find in the wilds of Africa. However, there is more to this majestic creature than meets the eye. Do you know what a gazelle eats, and what they are most likely to do to if under attack? You might be surprised.
In this fact file, we’re going to be looking at this graceful creature in close detail. What is the gazelle famous for? What are some stats and facts about gazelles you may not be aware of? Let’s break things down.
Generally, you’ll find that gazelles live across Asia and Africa, commonly in dry plots of land.
This means that you will often find gazelles prancing across deserts and savannah land.
But how do gazelles survive in areas which are so dry, hot, and arid? Bizarrely, they are able to shrink their organs so that they don’t need as much water to survive!
For example, a gazelle will shrink its heart, meaning that it will; need less oxygen to operate. This is because when an animal breathes, it will tend to lose water.
There are thought to be up to 19 different types of gazelle observable in the wild. One of these, the Edmi, actually lives up high in the mountains. It’s the only species of gazelle that does this.
However, even the Edmi will travel to drier or warmer areas during migration.
Believe it or not, the gazelle is closely related to the cow.
Gazelles have a fairly long lifespan for common prey in the wild. In their own habitats, you will find that a gazelle can live for up to 12 years.
In captivity, the gazelle’s lifespan tends to be a little longer. They can live for up to 15 years in careful zoo environments.
Gazelles aren’t as tall as many people might imagine. At around two feet tall, they are some of the smallest antelopes on the planet.
Gazelles will generally gestate for up to six months. They will then normally only give birth to one calf.
Many people find gazelles fascinating for their predator escape routines. When under threat, they will oddly bounce and spring around.
It’s thought that – rather than being a display of panic – this is helpful to alert other nearby gazelles to impending attack.
Some believe that gazelles hop about to show predators that they are physically imposing!
Gazelles will only ever eat plants and fruit, as true herbivores.
Not only can gazelles shrink and restrict their organs, they have two stomachs. As they live in arid regions, this is an evolutionary adaptation. It allows them to store food for later.
A gazelle can weigh as little as 12kg and as much as 75kg, on the whole.
Some of the biggest gazelles on the planet are Dama, which despite being hefty for the species, can still rely on their speed and agility to escape predators at short notice.
Gazelles will normally feed safely near other animals. These tend to be fellow herbivores. It’s not unheard of for a gazelle to happily co-habit feeding spaces with a zebra, for example.
Gazelles, like many creatures, can get territorial. Specifically, males often lock horns if they feel threatened. This is a battle of physical prowess which will result in the territory being offered up as a prize.
Sadly, gazelles are commonly hunted and farmed. This is thought to contribute to decreasing numbers in some areas.
Gazelles tend to thrive in each other’s company. While group sizes may vary from type to type, large gazelle groups are very common. Believe it or not, you may find that there are some gazelle groups which extend to more than 800 members!
Gazelles tend to be prey for many apex predators. In particular, lions and cheetahs will hunt them down.
However, they are extraordinarily quick, which means that predators will need to be particularly swift.
A gazelle can reach speeds of up to 100 km/h, likely to rival your average cheetah.
Gazelles also often leap around at high speeds, through physical behavior known as stotting.
It’s thought that many gazelles will choose to nestle themselves in very tall grass to hide from predators, too.
Gazelle horns tend to be fairly interesting from type to type. It’s not always a given that both males and females will have them. In some species, you will find that only male gazelles possess horns.
Gazelles tend to eat grass when they are in need of water. However, as stated, they have fallback options if there is little water around.
The gazelle is not an animal which is yet domesticated. In fact, some types, such as the Duma, are registered as threatened.
Gazelles tend to be active in daylight, and sleep during the night. This means they are a diurnal species.
The male gazelle will not mate for life, choosing to mate with multiple females during its lifespan.
It’s thought that the average gazelle calf will be able to stand and walk just a short while after they are born. It won’t take them long to learn how to run, either.
The name ‘gazelle’ is said to derive from ‘gazal’, an Arabic word. It’s thought to mean ‘love poem’ in a loose form. In fact, the gazelle is often used in Arabic literature as a symbol of beauty.
The gazelle is an immensely graceful creature. Its springy nature is thought to help show predators that they are difficult to catch.
There are types of gazelle which are, sadly, already extinct. For example, the Queen of Sheba gazelle was completely wiped out by humans by the 1950s.
Gazelles tend to abhor heat despite their habitat choices. However, they can easily cool themselves down through increased nasal breathing, or panting.
Do you know any fun facts about Gazelles? Share them in the comments below!