As a response to a query, asking to know more about giraffe’s, here is some information you may not have known…
There are four species of giraffe’s left in the world nowadays – a further seven species are now extinct. The living species are classified as follows:
(1) Northern Giraffe
(i) Kordofan Giraffe
(ii) Nubian Giraffe (Rothschild’s Giraffe included)
(iii) West African Giraffe
(2) Reticulated Giraffe (aka Somali Giraffe)
(3) Southern Giraffe
(i) Angolan Giraffe
(ii) Cape Giraffe
(4) Masai Giraffe
(i) Kilimanjaro Giraffe
(ii) Thornicroft’s Giraffe
Giraffe’s are even-toed ungulates (ungulate being an animal with hooves); as opposed to zebra’s and rhino’s which are odd-toed ungulates. The feet of a giraffe alone span around 30 cm in diameter (that’s roughly the size of a dinner plate)!
Adult males weigh 1,764-4,255 lbs (800-930 kgs), and adult females weigh 1,213-2,601 lbs (550-1,180 kgs). But that doesn’t stop them! They can reach speeds of 35 mph at a gallop (sprint), and keep a steady running pace of 10 mph.
Giraffe’s are the largest mammals on Earth – their legs alone (on average) are around 6 ft in height; as is their neck! A male giraffe will grow (on average) 16-20 ft tall, and females average 15-16 ft tall – that’s taller than the average double-decker bus (in the UK – being 14 ft) – and their tail can be 3 ft long, including the tufty bit!
A calf (baby giraffe) is around 6 ft in height at birth! It also has about a 6 ft drop, as the mother gives birth standing up. The young can stand, walk and run within (approximately) 1 hour of being born; this is advantageous as a prey species, and being a vulnerable newborn, in escaping from predators. Within the first year the young giraffe reaches around 10 ft in height – they are also weaned at one year old; they reach maturity between 3-6 years old.
These tall beasts live for 20-25 years in the wild (up to approximately 28 years old in captivity). As with cattle (and elephants, and whales, etc. etc.) male giraffe’s are known as bulls, females are known as cows, and (as previously mentioned) the babies are known as calves. Each giraffe’s pattern is unique to that individual; just as with human finger prints, zebra and tiger stripes, leopard spots… (you get it)! This can be a helpful way for conservationists to be able to identify the same individual.
Due to the awkwardness that comes with the height, giraffe’s have a difficult time drinking. Their necks will not allow the to reach water standing up; they have to awkwardly bend down or spread their legs out to get close enough to the water to drink.
Giraffe’s are herbivores (meaning they are vegetarian). Giraffe’s are browsers – they casually feed on whatever they fancy. They spend around half their day eating. They have a long, blue/black tongue – which is prehensile (meaning it’s capable of grasping). Their tongue is around 18-20 inches long, and can be used kind of like a super-finger to twist around branches (often thorny branches) to strip them of their leaves, for food. The vegetation and fruits consumed by giraffes is dependant on the availability of food in their location, and in the different seasons.
As with cattle, giraffe’s have a four-chambered stomach; animals (including sheep, deer and others) with this type of digestive system are known as Ruminants. Their digestion is split between the four chambers and regurgitated for “chewing the cud” or “ruminating”. The first chamber is the rumen, the second is the reticulum , the third is the omasum, and the fourth chamber is the abomasum. The rumen is for storage, and to regurgitate the for “chewing the cud” later. The reticulum is where the “chewed cud” goes, and is fermented to make the foodstuffs easier to digest; then regurgitated to “chew the cud” again. The omasum , is where the food goes for the absorption of water. Finally, the rest of the foodstuffs goes to the abomasum, which is like our stomach – where the bulk of the break-down and absorption happens (before going to the intestines).
Giraffe’s inhabit the woodlands, grasslands and savanna’s of Africa, and live in loose herds – meaning the herds do not stay together 24/7. Mainly herds are made up of females and young, or bachelor herds of young males. Older males are often solitary.
Did you know?
Giraffe’s have the same number of vertebrae in their neck as humans (seven)!
All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use.
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