Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo Quick Facts

Water Buffalo

Common Name

Water Buffalo

Scientific Name

Bubalus bubalis

Primarily found in

Southern Asia & Eurpoe, S. America, N. Africa


grass & forbs

Life Span

typically 15-25 yrs

Wild Indian Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) – True wild water buffalo are thought to survive in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Thailand. Domestic Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)  – domestic buffalo are frequently used as livestock in southern Asia, and also widely in South America, southern Europe, north Africa, and elsewhere.

Adult Male Water Buffalo


Large ox with scant hair that faces forward along midline of back and neck.  Skin of older adults almost bare.  Wild form typically blackish, but other colors, such as gray, common among some domestics.  Can have white legs and white crescent across throat and across lower neck, especially in young animals.  Horns long, corrugated, and tend to be triangular in cross section.  Most sweep out or back in shallow crescent.  Female horns straighter, wider spread, more slender, less angular, and can be longer.  Greatest horn spreads of any living bovid (up to 93+ outside spread).  Male lengths of 39 to 44 inches typical; female 39 to 52 inches.  Record 70.5 inches.  Male weights generally range from 1500 to 2650 lbs, while females 550 lbs and up.


Water buffalo spend much of their day submerged in the muddy waters of Asia’s tropical and subtropical forests. They have wide-splayed hooved feet which are used to prevent them from sinking too deeply in the mud. These adaptations allow them to move in wetlands and swamps.  Submerge themselves to reach aquatic plants.  Good swimmers that will actually feed on floating vegetation while swimming.  Seek shade more often than wallowing for cooling.  Generally flee to tall grass rather than water.

Food Habits

Prefer to feed in grasslands on grass and forbs.  Their diet mainly consists of grasses, herbs, aquatic plants, leaves and agricultural crops.


The water buffalo has a reputation for being a sluggish breeder. Without reasonable nutrition, the animals cannot reach puberty as early in life as genetic capability would normally allow. Both sexes mature sexually at nearly 3 years of age. Females have an estrous cycle of 21 days and generally only receptive for 24 to 36 hours.  Females normally produce calves every other year after gestation of 9 to 11 months.  Peak breeding seems to occur from April to July in exotics; birthing season December to June.

Life Span

Typically 15 to 25 years.

Keeping Water Buffalo

Need water for regular drinking and bathing.  Will sometimes rub and debark trees, causing them to die.  Wild buffalo will mate with domestics if no other wild buffalo available.  In Gainesville, Florida, a University of Florida professor, Hugh Popenoe, has raised water buffalo from young obtained from zoo overflow.  He uses them primarily for meat production (frequently sold as hamburger), although other local ranchers use them for production of high-quality mozzarella cheese.  Fencing of 6 to 7 feet usually adequate.

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