How fast do baby giraffes grow? How many vertebrae are in such a long neck? Why do they need such enormous hearts and how do they get by on less than thirty minutes of sleep each day? These are some of the most questions kids ask about giraffes that many adults don’t know about.
So, here are some amazing facts about nature’s tallest gentle mammal.
The Giraffe, are scientifically referred to as genus Giraffa, are mammals with long-necked, cud-chewing hoofed, with long legs and a coat pattern of irregular brown patches on a light background.
Giraffes are the tallest of all land animals. The males are called bulls with a height that may exceed 5.5 metres (18 feet). The females are called cows with the tallest at about 4.5 metres in height.
Their tongue is almost half a metre long, they are able to browse foliage almost six metres from the ground.
The male giraffe is taller and carries more weight than the female. Both sexes have skin-covered knobs, called “ossicones”, on the top of their heads. Ossicones of the females are smaller and have a small tuft of fur on top. The male ossicones are bald on the top. These knobs are used to protect the head when males fight, which involves swinging their necks at each other in a show of strength. This kind of fight is called “necking.”
Giraffes’ primary habitat are the savanna areas in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Their extreme height allows them to eat leaves and shoots located way higher than what other animals can reach. They particularly seek out acacia trees. Their long tongues are helpful in eating because they help pull leaves from the trees. Because they spend most of the day eating, a full-grown giraffe can consume over 45 kg (100 lb.) of leaves and twigs a day.
Giraffes walk in such an unusual manner. They move both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side. However, they run in a similar style to other mammals, swinging their rear legs and front legs in unison. A giraffe can reach 55 km/h (35 mph) at full speed but only in brief spurts.
These creatures surprisingly sleep less than two hours a day with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their hindquarters, but they can also sleep for short periods of time standing up.
Female giraffes can become pregnant at 5 years old. They carry a baby for 15 months and give birth while standing. Newborns are about two metres (six feet.) tall and weigh 70 kg (150 lb.).
They can live up to 25 years in the wild.
The animals are gregarious, a behaviour that apparently allows for increased vigilance against predators. They have excellent eyesight, and when one giraffe stares, for example, at a lion a kilometre away, the others look in that direction too. Smart tall creatures right?
Here’s a myth: Many people first believed the giraffe was a cross between a leopard and a camel, which reflects its scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis.
Tell us what you find fascinating about this beautiful mammal in the comment section.