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Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii)


Breeding behavior

  • Stallions exhibit seasonal changes in sperm production and sexual behavior during spring and summer
  • Social status and herd composition influence androgen hormone levels in males (D'Souza-Anjo et al. 2017)
    • Possibly affects male reproductive behavior


  • Mare backs into stallion or stands in front of him to indicate receptivity
    • Ears turned back but not flattened, lips relaxed
    • May urinate
  • Mounting
    • Stallion may rest chin on mare's back to test willingness to stand
      • Then rears and places his forelimbs in front of mare’s pelvis


Sexual Maturity

  • Mare's first conception
    • At about 4 years of age
      • As early as 2 years of age
  • Mares remain fertile until 20 years of age
    • 24 years of age is the record oldest age of giving birth
  • Stallion testes do not descend until 2.5 to 3 years of age
    • Delayed descent is also observed in onagers, wild asses, and zebras
  • Immature males may be incapable of breeding due to subordination to older stallions/males or incompetent sexual behavior.
  • Stallions generally begin copulation at 5 years of age.
    • Continue copulation until over 30 years of age.


  • Seasonally polyestrous.
  • In North America, cycles begin in early spring and last 7-8 months.

Reproductive rate

  • 1 foal per year
  • Mares conceive right after delivering a foal
    • Tend to wean the foal around 1 year
    • If fail to conceive, continue nursing for several years

Gestation and Birth


  • Approximately 11 months (320-343 days)


  • Mares ready to foal leave herd to seek quiet place.
  • Return probably coincides with heat (9 days after birth).
  • Birth weight:~30 kg (66 pounds)

Life Stages

Early growth and development

  • Foal remains with dam for first 2 years
  • Day 1
    • Stands, walks, trots
    • Nibbles forage
    • Neighs
  • 1 week
    • Grazes: eats hay and grain
    • Solitary play
    • Defensive kicking
    • Eats adult feces
  • 1 month
    • 39% of time resting
    • Begins playing with others in age group, older brothers and sisters
  • 1 to 2 months
    • Nursing declines from 8.5% to 2.4%
    • Begins to leave mother’s side and interact with other foals
  • 5-months
    • Spends same amount of time feeding as an adult, begin drinking water


In the wild

  • Not known

Managed care

  • About 20 to 25 years
    • Up to 32 years in very long-lived individuals (Amanda Lussier, personal communication, 2020)

Foal Coloration

Przewalski's Horse foal

A foal typically has a lighter coat color than an adult Przewalski's horse.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Asa (2002)
Boyd & Houpt (1994)
Klingel (1990)
Monfort et al. (1991)
National Geographic

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