Asian water buffalo is a large bovid originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. At least 130 million domestic water buffalo exist, and more people depend on them than on any other domestic animal. The skin of river buffalo is black, but some specimens may have dark, slate-coloured skin. Swamp buffalo have a grey skin at birth, but become slate blue later. Albinoids are present in some populations. River buffalo have comparatively longer faces, smaller girths, and bigger limbs than swamp buffalo.
Their dorsal ridges extend further back and taper off more gradually. Their horns grow downward and backward, then curve upward in a spiral. Tedong bonga is a black pied buffalo featuring a unique black and white colouration that is favoured by the Toraja of Sulawesi. The two types do not readily interbreed, but fertile offspring can occur.
Buffalo-cattle hybrids have not been observed to occur, but the embryos of such hybrids reach maturity in laboratory experiments, albeit at lower rates than non-hybrids. The rumen of the water buffalo has important differences from that of other ruminants. Water buffalo enjoy being in water. Swamp buffalo prefer to wallow in mudholes which they make with their horns. During wallowing, they acquire a thick coating of mud.
Water buffalo thrive on many aquatic plants and during floods, will graze submerged, raising their heads above the water and carrying quantities of edible plants. Green fodders are used widely for intensive milk production and for fattening. Many fodder crops are conserved as hay, chaffed, or pulped. Swamp buffalo generally become reproductive at an older age than river breeds. Young males in Egypt, India, and Pakistan are first mated at about 3. 5 years of age, but in Italy they may be used as early as 2 years of age. Successful mating behaviour may continue until the animal is 12 years or even older.