Last Reviewed and Updated on January 18, 2023
Addax is one of the most critically endangered mammals on the planet. Also known as the white antelope or the screwhorn antelope, this animal is well adapted to living in some of the harshest environments. Read on and learn some of the most interesting facts about the addax, an antelope species that is truly something special.
Basic Information About Addax Antelopes
Addax antelopes are native to the Sahara Desert on the African continent.
These antelopes are also known as the white antelope or the screwhorn antelopes, two names that capture the two most distinctive visual traits of this species; their coat is very lightly colored, and their horns have two to three distinct twists.
Females are smaller than males; females stand from 37 to 43 inches / 95 to 110 cm at the shoulder, while males stand at 41 to 45 inches / 105 to 115 centimeters.
Both sexes are about the same when it comes to length, with the head and body length being between 47 to 51 inches / 120 to 130 centimeters. Males are heavier, weighing up to 276 lbs / 125 kg, whereas females weigh up to 200 lbs / 90 kg.
Their lifespan is 19 to 25 years.
Addax is mainly nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. They are primarily grazers, eating grass and leaves on available shrubs and other vegetation.
The population of these majestic animals has been on the decline since the mid-1800s and is now critically endangered.
Facts About the Addax Antelopes
You’ve learned the basics, and now it is time to learn some of the most interesting facts about the addax antelopes, the little unique things that really set this species apart.
1. Addax can survive without free water almost indefinitely
Addax is well adapted to harsh desert environments and extreme conditions. Water is rarely freely available in environments the addax inhabits, so this species had to adapt to survive and thrive. These animals get their water from food and the dew that condenses on the plants.
2. They live in herds of 5 to 20 male and female members
Many large antelopes live in herds mostly made up of many females and a single breeding male, but not addax antelopes.
Both males and females are part of the herd in mixed numbers.
3. The oldest female leads the herd
The hierarchy in the addax herd is based on age; the oldest female leads the herd. As addax is critically endangered and rarely encountered in the wild, the study on herd dominance by age was conducted with captive animals (source).
4. The color of their coat varies with the seasons
The coat of addax is grayish brown in the winter, with brown hair on the head, neck, and shoulders. In the summer, the coat turns to almost white or light beige. This color change helps them with thermoregulation.
5. Addax was partially domesticated by Ancient Egyptians
Addax is depicted tied with a rope to stakes on pictures in a tomb dating back to 2500 BCE, which points to partial domestication of these animals by the ancient Egyptians.
6. They have broad hooves with flat soles
Their feet are well adapted for their habitat; they have broad hooves with flat soles and strong dewclaws that help them walk on soft sand.
7. The size of the horns is almost the same in males and females
Most animal species with horns show gender dimorphism, where the horns of females are noticeably smaller than the horns of males.
With addax, on average, males have slightly larger horns, but a female can have larger horns than a male. The size of horns in adult males is anywhere from 28 to 33 inches / 70 to 85 centimeters on average, and the horns of females are 22 to 31 inches / 55 to 80 centimeters on average.
8. They dig their “day beds.”
Addax is primarily nocturnal, especially in summer. During the day, they find shade and dig a depression into the sand. They will rest in these depressions during the day. These depressions may even provide them some protection during sandstorms.
9. They are rare in the wild but common in captivity
Many addaxes are kept in ZOO’s and private collections; their numbers in captivity are higher than in their natural habitat.
10. They are one of the slowest antelopes
They are slow movers, which makes them easier to hunt; this contributed to their declining numbers.