What Are Oxpeckers And What Relationship Do They Have With Buffalos?


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Kath Senior answered
Oxpeckers are birds that live in the African savannah and which live on a diet of mainly insects. Oxpeckers save energy by hitching a ride on the backs of large herbivores, including domestic animals. They cling on to the flanks of buffaloes and rhinos even when the animals are running quite fast.

Their claws provide a strong grip on the hide and their tail feathers act as rudders to keep them upright. The birds, while they are in this position, still find plenty of readily available food as they pick off the insects and parasites that live on the skin of the herbivore. They even prise out ticks from inside the wrinkles of the hide.

This obviously benefits the bird as it gets a ride and it gets a lot to eat but it also benefits the buffalo or rhino because the bird removes parasites that can cause irritation and disease. This mutually beneficial relationship is therefore symbiosis.

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