Giraffe animal<<<< Back to wild animals
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Giraffidae
- Genus: Giraffa
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Height: 4.8 - 5.5 m (188 - 216 inch)
- Weight: up to 1000 kg (2200 lbs)
- Food: Herbivore ( Plants, Grass)
- Speed: 50 kph (30mph)
- Predators: Lions, Leopards, Hyenas
- Sexual Maturity: 3 - 5 years
- Gestation Period: 450 days
- Population: 80.000 on 3.12.2014
- Lifespan: 20 - 25 years
- Litter size: 1 calf
- Distinctive Feature: Very long neck and unique patterned coat
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the tallest of all animals. Males can be 4.8 to 5.5 m tall, weighing 900kg. Its name comes from Arabic and means "the highest of all". Originally from Africa, the giraffe is akin to the families: Cervidae and Bovidae, but belongs to another family, the Giraffidae, which includes only the giraffe and its nearest relative, the okapi.
About giraffe population the numbers are going down. "It's a silent extinction," noting that giraffe numbers have fallen to 80,000 from 140,000 in december 2014.
The giraffe’s diet is consistent with its physique; it eats tree leaves using its tongue. Those living in southern Africa prefer branches and leaves that have thorns. When eating fresh and succulent food it can withstand long periods of time without water, but in the era of drought they travel several kilometers to drink water from lakes or ponds.
Giraffe’s favorite food is the Acacia, a species of tree that grows in the savannah, it is an animal that takes its time picking its food when there’s alot to choose from. But if need requires, it has no problems in adapting to other foods. It also eats other species of trees and grass. To drink or eat grass, the giraffe must bend and place itself in a vulnerable position.
The giraffe’s tongue and digestive system are adapted to digest plants with thorns, that they digest without any kind of problems. Giraffes spend 16-20 hours a day feeding, if they have calves they can do it in the warmest time of day, when predators are inactive. It can eat up to 65 kg of vegetables. The giraffe like the cow, is a ruminant animal, it has four stomachs and the digestion is similar to other ruminants (digestion needs more time).
Giraffes are famous for their extremely long neck (which allows them to reach the highest and tender leaves of trees) and their front legs, longer and bigger than the rear ones. Neck bone structure is different from that of other mammals, with no extra vertebrae, but each of the seven bones is longer. In addition , it has small horns covered with skin.
There are many specific changes to the giraffe’s structure, that have evolved uniquely compared to other mammals, particularly the circulatory system. The heart must pump blood pressure almost double that of many other large mammals in order to maintain normal blood flow. In the top of the neck, there is a complex system of regulation that prevents excess blood pressure when the giraffe lowers its head to drink. Blood vessels in the lower part of the legs are under great pressure. The giraffe has a thick and tight skin on the lower extremities of the legs, which maintain a high extravascular pressure, resembling the function of a supersonic airplane pilot suit.
Most of the sounds that it emits using its enormous lungs can not be heard by the human ear, because giraffes communicate with each other using infrasound. The black tongue, very long (about 45cm) allows it to clean its own ears. It has two horns and a bony crest due to the excessive development of frontal bones and nose. The mouth is different from other ruminants, upper lip is not cut like in camels, it has a sharper form. It has a system that allows it to open and close voluntarily nasal passages, protecting them from dust.
The fur is yellow, with darker or lighter spots, the ones on the neck or legs are smaller.
- Nubian giraffe, (G. c. camelopardalis)
- Reticulated giraffe or Somali Giraffe (G. c. reticulata)
- Angolan giraffe or Namibian Giraffe(G. c. angolensis)
- Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum)
- Masai giraffe or Kilimanjaro giraffe(G. c. tippelskirchi)
- Rothschild's giraffe or Ugandan giraffe(G. c. rothschildi)
- South African giraffe (G. c. giraffa)
- Rhodesian giraffe or Thornicroft giraffe (G. c. thornicrofti)
- The West African giraffe or Nigerian giraffe(G. c. peralta)
The giraffe is an animal that is not sedentary and that lives in groups of 15-20 because of inconsistency and lack of help from the others. Giraffes are timid animals, they preffer running away before facing danger, mainly dodging lions; if they see themselves surrounded or when their offsprings are threatened, giraffes will fight, especially kicking (due to their gauge these strokes can be fatal or cause serious injury).
Due to its height, the giraffe has an extremely large field of view, with which it can quickly discover any threat. When running, the giraffe is a very agile animale, reaching up to 60 km per hour. Males also fight eachother. Giraffes, contrary to what most people believe, are based on a communication system similar to that of cows, system announcing imminent dangers and helping them locate their offspring.
Gestation period is between 14 and 15 months; giving birth to only one calf. The giraffe gives birth standing and the embryonic sac does not break when the calf falls to the ground. Newborn giraffes measure 1,8m. Few hours after birth, the calf can already run, without any differences from one week old offsprings.
However in the first two weeks they are rather placed and guarded by their mother. Adult giraffes are too large for most carnivores, but younger specimens can be attacked by most carnivores: lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs. The calf is independent after 18 months. Only 25-50% of them will get to adulthood, with an average life of 20 to 25 years.
Baby giraffes are more sociable than adults, they will play and spend time together. Their problem is predators – giraffe offsprings are generally shorter than adults and therefore are frequently attacked by lions, hyenas and other wild animals which in principle would not dare to attack an adult giraffe. When the calves are born, they weigh around 50kg and measure less than 2m. They feed on breast milk until the age of 16 months. Mothers always remain close to their offspring to protect them from predators, but leave them free when they begin to grow. The other giraffes take care of other calves in the group if these moved away from the group too soon for some reason.
Giraffes live in groups of 20-30 specimens when young, at old age they look for solitude.
A giraffe can live around 25 years.
Did you know that:
The giraffe is one of the tallest mammals in the world, known for the very long neck and legs.
Giraffes are considered the only animals really mute.
The adult giraffe can clean its ears with its half meter long tongue, just over 50 cm.