Truths

10 Giraffes Facts

The giraffe is the tallest mammal on land in the world, with even newborn babies larger than most humans. Giraffes are the tallest mammal in the world. Their long legs and necks help them eat leaves at the top of tall trees that other animals cannot reach. They have long tongues, and no teeth on the front of their upper jaw, which helps them tear leaves from branches. Male giraffes use their necks to fight, swinging them side to side to headbutt their opponent.

10. How many species of giraffes are there?

Until recently, it was believed that there was only one species of giraffe, Giraffa Camelopardalis. However, recent research by scientists has shown that there are four species: Northern giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis), Southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffe), Masai giraffe (Giraffa tipskirchi) and Somali giraffe (Giraffa reticulata).

9. What do giraffes look like?

What do giraffes look like

Source: Sarala Gamage | CC BY 3.0 Unported
The giraffes’ long legs and necks make them the longest of all mammals; the legs alone are about 2 meters long than many people’s. They have distinctly spotted fur and no two giraffes have exactly the same pattern. This means that giraffes can be individually identified from their fur, a feature often used in the study of wild giraffe populations.

8. How big can giraffes get?

How big can giraffes get (2)

Source: Esin Üstün | CC BY 2.0 Generic
On average, giraffes are between 4.8 and 6 meters tall. How long is a giraffe’s neck? Giraffes have a long neck that can be over 6 feet in length. The reason for the long neck is debated among scientists, but it is useful for reaching food at the top of tall trees. The added height is good for spotting approaching predators, and males use their long necks to compete with other males, a fight known as neck wrestling. Male giraffes wave their long necks and repeatedly poke their heads into the bodies of the other males. Males with longer and stronger necks tend to win these fights, often getting the female. It is therefore thought that longer necks can also help attract females.

7. Where do giraffes live?

Where do giraffes liveSource: Bernard DUPONT | CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic

Rothschild’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) male.

Giraffes live in the open plains, grasslands and savannas of Africa. They are most common in southern and eastern Africa, but some smaller, more isolated populations live in western and central Africa.

6. What do giraffes eat?

What do giraffes eatSource: William Warby | CC BY 2.0 Generic

Portrait of a giraffe eating leaves at London Zoo.

Giraffes are sniffers, so use their long necks to feed on the leaves, shoots and fruits of tall shrubs and trees. They feed on a variety of plants and the diet varies according to location and season, but acacia leaves and shoots are the most commonly eaten.

5. Do giraffes have teeth?

Do giraffes have teeth (2)Source: happymillerman | CC BY 2.0 Generic

You don’t often see Giraffe teeth.

Yes! Giraffes have 32 teeth, the same number as humans. But their mouths look very different from ours. The teeth are on the front of the lower jaw, but only on the back of the upper jaw. Instead of teeth, they have a lump of tissue known as a hard plate, or tooth cushion, at the top of their mouths, which helps them hold onto the leaves.

4. How long is a giraffe’s tongue?

How long is a giraffe's tongue (2)

Source: Irina Polikanova | CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
A giraffe’s tongue is long, about 50-53 cm in length. Giraffe tongues and lips are tough and specially adapted to allow giraffes to forage on trees that other animals would avoid, such as acacias, which are very prickly.

3. What color is a giraffe’s tongue?

What color is a giraffe's tongue?Source: William Warby | CC BY 2.0 Generic

Tongue out giraffe eating leaves at London Zoo.

A giraffe’s tongue is dark blue in color, which is considered a form of protection from the sun.

2. How are giraffes born?

How are giraffes born (2)

Source: Frontierofficial | CC BY 2.0 Generic
Giraffes are polygamous, so a few males mate with a female. Females tend to give birth to a single calf around 400-460 days after mating; females give birth standing up. Baby Giraffes can stand within half an hour and can walk with their family after 10 o’clock. Young giraffes hang out in nursery groups until about 5 months old, resting and playing together while their mothers forage in the distance; one female will tend to stay and look after the young. The males are not involved in the rearing of the young.

1. How long does a giraffe sleep?

How long does a giraffe sleepSource: Christoph Rupprecht | CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic

These young giraffes rest in the shade, a rare sight even in Niger, West Africa.

Giraffes have one of the shortest sleep needs of all mammals and will only sleep about four hours a day. They sleep either lying with their necks on their bodies or standing. Sleep occurs at short intervals, sometimes less than a minute.

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