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Addax nasomaculatus


The addax is a sandy to almost white color during the summer, grayish brown in the winter. Brown and black patches form a distinctive white "X" over the nose. There is a tuft of long black hairs between the horns, and a short mane on the neck. The short, slender tail is tipped with a tuft of hair.

The horns curve out from the base and spiral back over the neck. They can be up to a yard long, measured in a straight line from base to tip, and can have 1 to 3 spiral turns. Both sexes bear horns, but those of the females are typically thinner than those of the male.


The addax averages about 40 inches in height at the shoulder and about 4 feet in length, with a weight of about 250 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females.

Distribution and Habitat

Once found across northern Africa, on both sides of the Sahara, the addax's range is now limited to a narrow band of sand and stony desert regions from northeastern Niger to northwestern Sudan. Addax typically follow the rains, and can tell where rains have fallen by scenting from a great distance where vegetation has turned green.


Breeding can occur throughout the year, with population birth peaks in winter and early spring. One calf is born after a gestation of 257-264 days. It is weaned at 23-39 weeks, and is sexually mature at 2-3 years.

Longevity in the wild is unknown.


The addax feeds on desert grasses and scrub, especially Aristida, Panicum, and Stipagrostis grasses. A very particular grazer, an addax will only eat the blades of Aristida, and will usually crop the clumps down to a uniform, level height. When grazing on Parnicum, it will neatly crop the fresh, green blades from the center of a clump and leave the outer, drief leaves untouched. It will also pluck Parnicum seeds by drawing a stalk through its mouth until all the seeds have been cleaned off.

As with most other desert dwellers, the addax can go without free water almost indefinitely, but will take in great quantities of free water if given the opportunity.

Other Habits and Behaviors

Addax typically move about in groups of 4-20, each group led by an old male.

Addax are very wary animals and will dash off quickly at the slightest disturbance. If the perceived threat is great enough, an addax may keep running until it literally dies from exhaustion.

Addax are mainly active during the night, particularly in the hot season, spending the day dug into the sand under shade.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Mammalia
order Artiodactyla
family Bovidae
genus & species Addax nasomaculatus

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The Robinson Library >> Family Bovidae

This page was last updated on August 31, 2018.