Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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The name for several members of the family Bovidae in the mammalian order Artiodactyla. The buffalo is an Old World artiodactyl that resembles oxen in general appearance. The North American bison is often called a buffalo, but it is not related to the true buffalo. The Asian buffalo (Bubalus bubalis; see illustration), known commonly as the water buffalo and also as the carabao, is found as a domestic animal in the Balkans, Asia Minor, and Egypt. Asian buffalo exist in the wild state in southern Asia and Borneo, where they are considered to be ferocious and dangerous. Water buffalo are stocky, heavy-built animals that are not quite 1.8 m (6 ft) at shoulder height. They have very short hair, and their horns are the shortest and most splayed of any variety. Like all buffalo, they have a liking for marshes, where they wallow and become caked with mud that affords protection against insects. Their wide, flattened hooves allow them to stand firmly on soft, marshy soil. They are hardy animals, being able to resist infections and insect-borne diseases, and they can withstand cold so well that they do not need shelters. Their diet consists entirely of reeds, rushes, and other aquatic plants. Domestic herds of 200 to 300 animals may provide 1400 liters (1480 quarts) of milk per year per animal. This milk is rich in cream and is used to make butter and yogurt. See also: Agricultural science (animal); Artiodactyla; Bison; Domestication; Milk; Musk-ox; Yak
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