Giraffa cameleopardalis (a cross breed of a leopard-spotted and a camel-face)
What does a Giraffe look like?
- The giraffes soar above everyone at 18 feet with towering legs (6 feet). Their front legs are 10% more extended than hind legs. They are even number of toes on their hooves. They are the tallest quadruped(walks on four legs).
- They have extremely elongated necks (6 feet weighing 600 pounds). But it has the same number of seven vertebrae as us.
- Their bodies (except bellies) are adorned with spotted patterns which are unique like snowflakes to each giraffe. The Masai giraffes from Kenya have oak leaf like spots while other giraffes like (West African Giraffe, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Reticulated Giraffe, Thornicroft Giraffe, Angolan Giraffe, Nubian Giraffe, Kordofan Giraffe, South African Giraffe) have spots that look like squares. These spots act as a camouflage amidst the trees.
- Their head has a crown called ossicone which are knobs covered by their skin.
- They also have small horns at the top of their head but males (bulls) have more horns.
- They make sounds like a flute blowing or a snort or hiss.
- Females(cow) give birth to calf (baby). The calf can stand up immediately after birth as their legs rapidly inflate. NASA used this principle to create Lower Body Negative Pressure process where astronauts in space (where the circulatory system of their legs don’t need work) apply pressure on their legs with the help of an airtight tube and the leg veins stay fit.
- They live for 25 years and you can tell their age by seeing how dark their spots are.
- They clean their ears using their tongues!
- Giraffes run at speeds of 55km/hr at an unusual style of the two left legs moving at a same pace and the right legs protruding slowly behind. They walk with the legs moving at one side and then alternating at the other.
- Giraffes strangely sleep only for maximum of 2 hours a day. It does take them time to sit and sleep and then they become easy prey to lions. They just rest their heads on the trees. Smaller animals sleep more as they can hide somewhere safe but for our longest animal sleep is unsafe.
What do Giraffes Eat?
- Juicy acacia leaves grabbed with their hairy bluish purple extended prehensile (can curl up) tongues (21” long) satisfy their stomachs. They have four stomachs and they regurgitate food like cows.
- It is tricky to bend those long legs to drink water from ponds and with enemies (big cats) lurking around and who know they are at a disadvantage now; so giraffes drink on alternate days.
Male giraffes engage in game called necking where they swing their necks at the other. It is dangerous but their ossicones protect them.
Where do Giraffes Live?
If you go to the savannah regions of Africa you will not miss the giraffes in groups of 12; protruding their heads above the other animals who seem miniscule.
Are Giraffes endangered?
- The ferocious lions try to grab the swanky legs of the giraffe but often injury themselves in the head badly by the giraffe kicking its legs forcefully against the lion.
- African tribes sadly often hunt down giraffes for their tails, meat and hide which threatens the giraffe. The tail is considered to be a good luck charm.
- With more and more trees being cut down the giraffes miss their home and are gradually decreasing.
3 Interesting Giraffe Facts
- The Giraffe dance started when a woman saw giraffes dancing in the rain and beating to a tune. Today women sing the song while men dance.
- Zarafa in France was the famous friendly giraffe and 100000 people would follow her dainty prance.
- Some famous books on Giraffes are “The Lonely Giraffe” by Peter Blight, “A very strange creature” by Ronda Armitage, “Sophie La Giraffe and Friends” by Dorling Kindersley, “Zarafa” by Michael Allin.
Learn How to draw a Giraffe with the help of our step-by-step drawing video.