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What Do Addax Eat? Learn About The Addax’s Diet

The addax (Addax nasomaculatus) is beautiful and rare desert-dwelling antelope that can be found in one of the dryest regions of the world: Africa’s Sahara Desert. These animals have developed a unique diet that allows them to thrive in conditions where other species would probably struggle much more to survive.

In this article, we will explore what studies have found about the various foods that addaxes enjoy eating in the wild, and what they eat in captivity. By understanding their dietary preferences, we can better appreciate the incredible resilience and adaptability of these beautiful creatures, and understand how they can survive in such inhospitable habitats.

Addax Diet: What Do Addax Eat In The Wild?

1. Desert Grasses

Addax Diet - Desert GrassSource: Wikimedia Commons

Addaxes are well-adapted to their harsh desert environment, and one of their primary sources of sustenance comes from desert grasses.

These antelopes consume a variety of grass species, including Stipagrostis pungens, Aristida mutabilis, and Panicum turgidum. These grasses are uniquely adapted to thrive in arid conditions, and they provide the addaxes with essential nutrients and hydration.

The addaxes’ ability to digest and extract water from these desert grasses is a remarkable adaptation that helps them survive in their natural habitat. By consuming these hardy plants, addaxes not only maintain their energy levels but also reduce their reliance on external water sources, making them well-suited for life in the unforgiving desert landscape.

2. Other Desert Flowering Plants / Shrubs

Fagonia glutinosaSource: Wikimedia Commons

Fagonia glutinosa (pictured above) is a desert plant species with pretty pink flowers that also plays a role in the diet of addax antelopes. Fagonia glutinosa is well-adapted to arid environments, and its resilience allows it to thrive in the harsh conditions of the addax’s desert habitat.

Helianthemum kahiricum is another desert plant that can be found from Northern Africa (and the Sahara Desert) to the Arabian Peninsula, and it is also part of the addax’s diet whenever they can find them. This plant bears yellow flowers and is also very well adapted to very dry conditions and rocky grounds.

Another example of a flowering plant (actually a small shrub) sometimes eaten by addaxes is Hammada schmittiana, which belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and which can be recognized by its very pale, sometimes almost white stems.

3. Woody Vegetation

Addax Diet - AcaciaSource: Wikimedia Commons

The addax’s diet is a mix of herbaceous and woody plants. Typically, they will go for leaves of Acacia trees when their favorite desert grasses are not available. When you see how thorny these trees are, it is understandable that grass and shrubs are an easier choice for these antelopes.

What Do Addaxes Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, addaxes are typically fed a diet that aims to replicate their natural food sources as closely as possible. Their diet may include hay, various types of grasses, leaves, and twigs of woody plants. They may also be given specially formulated herbivore pellets that provide essential nutrients to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Additionally, fresh water is always made available for them to drink. That’s a luxury they often don’t have in their natural habitat! The specific diet may vary depending on the individual nutritional needs and the facility where the addaxes are kept.

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