Giraffe | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Giraffe

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world. The most recognizable animal on the planet. Evolutionary processes have made this creature truly unique and don’t have any other living creatures similar to it.

There are many fun facts about giraffes. These fascinating animals have some bizarre features, which may surprise you. Here is our list of giraffe facts.

Fact number one.

To date, natural scientists admit nine separate subspecies of giraffe: the Nubian giraffe; reticulated giraffe; Angolan giraffe; giraffe Kordofan; Masai giraffe; Rothschild giraffe; South African giraffe; Rhodesian giraffe; West African giraffe.

Fact number two.

Pregnancy in giraffes lasts fifteen months. Females first breed at the age of four or five years. Although most cubs in some regions are born during dry months, births can occur in any month of the year. Females gestate one cub. At birth, he is about two meters tall and weighs up to eighty kilograms. During the week, the mother licks and sniffs the newborn, examining its smell. After that, the cub joins a “baby group” consisting of young animals of the same age, while the mothers feed at different distances. If lions of hyenas attack, the female stands over her cub, kicking predators with her fore and hind limbs. But she doesn’t always have time to come to the rescue, because the female needs food and water, which is why she has to move away from the baby’s group for several hours. Because of that about half of young animals die from the paws of predators. Young animals try the vegetation already three weeks after birth, although the final weaning sometimes occurs at the age of eighteen to twenty-two months. Males join other bachelors at the age of two, while females often stay with their mother.

Fact number three.

Giraffes are the only animals, which can’t yawn. Almost all warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals periodically open their mouths in an attempt to get enough oxygen – birds, fishes and mammals sin this. The average person yawns about two hundred and fifty thousand times in their lifetime. But a giraffe never yawns in its entire life. At least in the entire history of observations of giraffes, scientist have been able to catch no one long necked doing this activity. But giraffes can moo, hiss, growl, and whistle. They use all this set of sounds to communicate with relatives.

Fact number four.

The horns of a giraffe are called ossicones. From a technical point of view, ossicones can’t be called horns, they are unique cartilaginous formations covered with skin and attached to the animal’s skull. While it isn’t clear what the purpose of ossicones is, perhaps they are needed by males to intimidate each other during the mating season, or they characterize the sexuality of the male in the eyes of the female (that is, males with larger ossicones are more preferred by females). They can also serve to dissipate heat from the scorching African sun.

Fact number five.

Giraffes are most vulnerable to predators – especially lions – when they need to drink. The giraffe’s neck is actually too short to reach the ground. Yes, that’s right, this mighty mammal with the longest neck can’t reach a watering hole to take a sip. Even worse, giraffes can’t simply tilt their neck forward. They must awkwardly spread their front legs and bend their knees before they can lower their necks to the ground to drink. Luckily for giraffes, they don’t need to drink every day, like we humans, do. Giraffes only need to drink once in several days to survive in the savannah. To reach the water source with their heads, the animals must spread their front paws.

Fact number six.

Giraffes have very dense skins. The giraffe’s extremely thick skin cannot be pierced with a normal syringe, so to give it a shot, vets use special injection guns that fire ampoules with great force.

Fact number seven.

The giraffe’s blue-violet tongues are huge: their length ranges from forty-five to fifty centimeters. Such long and muscular tongues are ideal for gently picking fresh leaves from the tops of even the most difficult of approach tall trees. Giraffes prefer shoots and leaves of prickly acacia. Females, in particular, choose foods that are high in energy and low in cellulose. Large males consume up to sixty kilograms of food per day. The dark color of the tongue helps prevent sunburn, so the animals are able to feed all day without break. The tongue and the inside of the mouth are covered with hard tissue. The giraffe grabs the leaves with its tenacious lips or tongue and pulls them into its mouth. If leafage isn’t prickly, the giraffe “combs” the leaves from the stem, pulling then through the lower fangs and incisors. Giraffes get most of their water from their food, although during the dry season they drink at least once every three days.

Fact number eight.

Giraffes have the heaviest heart. With a body weight of about a ton, a giraffe’s heart can weigh up to twelve kilograms. This makes it the largest heart among land mammals. Every minute, a giraffe heart can pump up to sixty liters of blood. The blood pressure of a giraffe is twice higher that of a human. When a giraffe lowers its head to the ground. Special vessels at the base of the brain control blood pressure.

Fact number nine.

Giraffes walk “on tiptoe”. Giraffes have two heavy hooves on each foot. These modified claws provide strength and protection to grazing animals that need the support on solid ground. Unlike humans, whose limbs have five long fingers, in ungulates, the bones at the ends of the paws are compressed. This means that they actually walk on tiptoe, moving first their right hooves at the same time, then their left. In a gallop, the giraffe pushes off with its hind legs, and the front legs come down almost together, but never two hooves touch the ground at the same time. The hooves of a giraffe are thirty centimeters in diameter. However, for giraffes, swamps, oozy soil and other soft surfaces present resistless obstacles, primarily due to thin limbs and huge weight. True, large hooves don’t allow giraffes to sink into loose sand.

Fact number ten.

Giraffes are a herd animal. Giraffes live in groups of up to twenty individuals. Home ranges are consisting only eighty-five square kilometers in wetter areas and up to one thousand five hundred square kilometers in dry regions. Herding allows giraffes to increase their vigilance against predators. They have excellent eyesight, and when one giraffe observes, for example, a lion located a kilometer away, other members of herd also look in the same direction.

World Giraffe Day is celebrated on the twenty first of June. For the last thirty years, the number of reticulated giraffes (they got their name for a specific color) has decreased by almost five times. In Africa, representatives of this species are only eight thousand individuals.

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