Giraffe Fun Facts
“However much you know giraffes, to see one in the wild for the first time feels prehistoric.”Jane Goodall
Giraffes are beautiful tall animals found in the savannas in Africa. Here are 10 interesting facts about these gentle giants.
1. Tallest Mammals on Earth
Not surprisingly, giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. An adult male giraffe can grow up to 5.5meters (17-18 feet) – that is taller than 3 adult humans! Their long necks and legs which are almost 6 feet high help them reach the tops of trees to feed on leaves and also keep an eye out for predators.
2. Four Stomachs
Giraffes, like cows have four stomachs. They also eat their food similar to the way cows eat – chew it, swallow it, and then regurgitate it and chew it some more, like a cud. Giraffes spend most of their awake time in eating, consuming around 45 kg of leaves and twigs in a day!
3. Newborns stand up within an hour of birth
Giraffe babies, during birth, fall out of their mothers from a height of almost 6 feet down to the ground! However, within 30 minutes to an hour, they can already stand up on their own feet. Furthermore, they can run around with their mothers within a few hours (up to 10 hours) of their birth.
Talk about being quick learners!
Giraffe babies, can be as tall as six feet in height, at the time of birth – taller than many adult humans.
Giraffes forelegs are longer than their hind legs. Usually they do not run, but amble at a leisurely pace. However, when chased by predators they can run at a speed of up to 55kmph. Of course, they can maintain this speed for only short sprints.
5. Rarely drink water
Giraffes rarely ever drink water. They take most of their water requirement through the leaves that they eat. As a result, they need to drink water only once every few days, and sometimes even less than that.
Because of their long forelegs, even their long neck feels short and they cannot easily reach water holes. To drink, they have to bend down with their front legs spread out in front of them so their mouth can reach the water. This is also when they are most vulnerable.
6. Dangerous Prey
Yes, that’s correct. Giraffes can pose to be a dangerous prey. Lions are the only predators that pose a serious threat to giraffes, though hyenas hunt them too. Lions try to knock them off their feet and onto the ground when they try to hunt giraffes. Giraffes on the other hand, defends itself with its powerful hind leg kick. A well placed adult giraffe’s kick has the power to shatter a lion’s skull.
7. Only 7 vertebrae in neck
One might assume that because of their long necks, giraffes will have many more vertebrae in their necks than other mammals. That assumption, however, is incorrect. They have the same number – seven – just like humans. The only difference being that their vertebrae are very large in comparison to ours.
The pattern on a giraffe’s coat is unique. Just like our fingerprint, the spots on each giraffe are different. You can also tell the age of giraffe by looking at its spots. The older a giraffe, the darker its spots will be.
9. Almost two feet long tongue
Giraffe’s tongue is bluish-black or bluish-purple in colour and can be really long, almost 2 feet (55cms) in length. Coupled with their long necks, they use their long tongue to wrap it around the leaves on a tree, so that the giraffe can easily grab the leaves for eating.
In the wild they live up to 25 years. In captivity they can live a much longer life and have been known to live as long as 40 years as well.