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» Oryx | An antelope looking like a horse

Fast Facts About Oryx

  • Common name: Oryx
  • Scientific name: Oryx dammah
  • Family:  Bovidae
  • Type: Mammal
  • Weight: 220-300 kg
  • Size: 1.4 – 2.4 m
  • Top Speed: 60 km/h
  • Life expectancy: 20 years (in the wild)
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Status: Not extinct
  • Natural Habitat: Desert (Africa)

The Oryx, or colloquially known as the Scimitar-horned Oryx or Antelope Spear, is a fascinating animal; the name may sound strange, but it is well known in Africa as one of the wild animals that inhabit the desert and savannah.

We will show you the characteristics, habitat, diet, reproduction, predators, and relevant information about this wild species. After you read this, you can consider yourself an expert on one of the most famous desert mammals.

What are the characteristics of the Oryx?

This antelope, despite not being related to horses, many claims that it looks very similar; this is because its head is elongated, as well as its prominent neck; and it has a kind of mane. Something characteristic is its straight and longhorns, can reach 1 meter or more, being slightly inclined backward are a deadly weapon, which is used to fight among males, or defend against predators.

Despite being prominent, this antelope is of medium size, being the smallest of the 4 species of this genus; even the withers can measure one meter. Its average weight is about 70 kilos. It has a white coat, something very characteristic of the wild animals of the desert; this is very useful to them to reflect the solar radiation, and that this one affects them less. However, it has brown spots on its legs and a mask of the same color on its snout and head.

It has very functional flattened hoofs on its legs, which allow them to move on the sand without sinking, giving them agility and speed in desert and sandy areas.

Oryx Habitat

As we have seen in its characteristics, the oryx is an animal belonging to and adapted to deserts, as well as to their extreme conditions and temperatures although it is expected to love being under the shade of a tree, looking for soft and fresh soil where to rest during the day.

Feeding this desert animal

The oryx is a herbivorous animal; it loves to graze, and even by instinctive abilities it can detect when the rains will begin, which brings with it the growth of vegetation; so it moves to those areas to be able to find the favorite food for its survival.

His diet is based on bulbs, flowers, fruits, and some shoots. This mammal can spend several days without drinking water since it can be found in their food. So with the right food, it will dehydrate much slower.

How does it reproduce?

When the mating season arrives, males become aggressive and territorial; even wild fights are formed using their sharp horns against other males who invade their territory and look for their females, and thus decide who will keep everything.

Here is a video of 2 male oryxes fighting:

As is typical of antelopes, gestation lasts about 8 months, and tend to have one calf per birth, although there are exceptions where twins are born. At birth, the offspring are brown, and then over time, their coat changes color to take on a white tone, as is typical of adults. After 10 weeks, the female stops breastfeeding the baby. As soon as they are born, you can see two small horns that will grow over time. At the age of two, the oryx reaches sexual maturity.


Naturally, lions, leopards, and hyenas have long been the predators of the oryx. In the past, however, oryx populations were large and spread throughout Arabia and Africa. However, after the Second World War, these were the object of rampant hunting for human consumption. They were also sought to use their horns as precious objects; in addition to their skin and flesh.

Curiosities about the Orix

Like many desert animals, the oryx can thermoregulate; that is, to regulate its body temperature according to the climate. With this method, you can save much water that you keep inside. When in winter the climate is cold, he maintains his body temperature higher than the environment, and vice versa, when the temperature is high, he adapts to it and thus does not spend or evaporate his internal water to stay calm. He also takes advantage of the nights to cool himself. This helps him to avoid the excessive heating of his system since this would have deadly consequences.

Another very functional mechanism in the oryx is that your kidneys recycle urine, and thus maintain your body fluids; this helps you avoid the loss of vital fluid. In addition to that, the excrement is small dry balls.

Oryxes can be both solitary and social. However, it is prevalent to see them in herds of between 15 and 30 individuals. Although there are cases in which up to 100 members have been counted; with a social structure of an alpha male that guides them.

The oryx is a ruminant animal, that is to say, that it has four stomach cavities; the reason why the digestion process is slow. In order to eat their food, they first chew it, swallow it, regurgitate it, and then chew it again.

Informative video documentary about the African antelope: the Oryx.

If the information about the Oryx that we have given you did not reach you and you need something more, we leave you a documentary of this wild animal.