What do you think of giraffes

giraffe

Characteristics

What do giraffes look like?

Giraffes have a rather unusual appearance: They have four very long legs and the longest neck of all mammals: As in most mammals, it only consists of seven cervical vertebrae. However, these are each a good 40 centimeters long and are supported by very strong neck muscles.

But giraffes did not always have such a long neck. The ancestors of the giraffe, who lived in Europe, Africa and Asia about 65 million years ago, still had short necks.

It was only in the course of development that the giraffe neck became longer and longer: This gave the animals an advantage because they could use the food available high up in the trees.

Overall, giraffes reach a height of around 5.5 meters - sometimes even more. That makes them the highest animals. Their bodies are up to four meters long and they weigh around 700 kilograms.

The females are, on average, smaller than the males. The front legs of the giraffes are longer than the back legs, so the back slopes sharply.

Giraffes have small antlers that consist of two to five cones. The antlers of a giraffe bull are up to 25 centimeters long, that of a female is much shorter.

The antlers of the giraffes are protected by a special skin called bast.

The fur of the giraffes is brown to beige and patterned differently: Depending on the subspecies, giraffes have spots or reticulated markings.

Where do giraffes live?

Giraffes live exclusively in Africa. They can be found in regions south of the Sahara to South Africa.

Giraffes prefer to live in savannahs, where bushes and trees grow abundantly.

What types of giraffes are there?

Together with the okapi, the giraffes make up the giraffe family. However, okapis only have a short neck.

Eight subspecies of giraffes are known that are at home in different areas of Africa: the Nubian giraffe, the cordofangiraffe, the Chad giraffe, the reticulated giraffe, the Uganda giraffe, the Masai giraffe, the Angola giraffe and the Cape giraffe.

These subspecies differ only in the color and pattern of their fur and in the size and shape of their antlers.

Deer are also related to the giraffes. This can be recognized by the fact that giraffes have small horn-like antlers.

How old do giraffes get?

Giraffes live to be around 20 years old, sometimes 25 years or a little more. In captivity, they can even live to be 30 years old.

behavior

How do giraffes live?

Giraffes live in groups of a maximum of 30 animals and are active during the day and night. The composition of these groups changes again and again and the animals often switch from one group to the other.

Because giraffes are so large but only feed on leaves and shoots that are relatively low in nutrients, they spend most of the day eating. They wander from tree to tree and also graze branches at a height of five meters.

Since giraffes, like cows, are ruminants, when they are not eating they spend the day resting and ruminating their food. Even at night, the hard-to-digest food is chewed on again.

Giraffes sleep very little. They only spend a few minutes asleep at a time. In total, it's less than two hours a night. They lie down on the floor and bend their heads back towards the body.

Short sleep phases are typical for large mammals, as they are not protected from predators during this time and are very endangered.

The color of the fur and the drawing of the giraffes are optimally adapted to their surroundings: the brown and beige tones as well as the reticulated and speckled drawing make them well camouflaged in the savannah between the trees.

Their gait is also typical of giraffes: they walk in what is known as the passageway. This means that the front and rear legs on one side are moved forward at the same time. That's why they have a rocking gait. However, they can still be very fast and in case of danger they can reach a speed of around 60 kilometers per hour.

Giraffes are usually very peaceful. Perhaps this is where its name comes from: The name "giraffe" comes from the Arabic word "serafe", which means something like "lovely".

Giraffes have a hierarchy, but hardly ever argue with each other. Only now and then can you see two cops fighting with each other. They hit each other with their heads. These blows can be so powerful that the animals sometimes even pass out.

Friends and enemies of the giraffe

Only large predators like lions can endanger sick or young giraffes. Giraffes are usually protected from predators by camouflaging their fur. In addition, they can see, smell and hear very well and can perceive enemies from afar. And adult giraffes can give tremendous kicks with their hooves that can even shatter a lion's skull.

To enjoy the protection of a large herd, giraffes often mingle with groups of zebra or wildebeest.

How do giraffes reproduce?

Female giraffes only ever give birth to one young. The baby giraffe is born after a gestation period of around 15 months. When it was born, it was already two meters tall and weighed over 75 kilograms. The mother stands at birth so that the baby falls to the ground from a height of two meters.

Baby giraffes can walk right after they are born. In the first year of life, they are still suckled by their mother. But after a few weeks they will also nibble on leaves and twigs.

After the first year of life, young giraffes are self-employed and leave their mother. They are fertile at the age of four.

How do giraffes communicate?

We humans do not hear a sound from giraffes - but that does not mean that they are mute. Rather, giraffes communicate with infrasound, which we cannot perceive. With the help of these very deep tones, they maintain contact with each other even over long distances.

maintenance

What do giraffes eat?

Giraffes feed exclusively on leaves, buds and shoots. They do not stop at plants with sharp thorns, such as acacias. Because their mouth is protected inside by a firm layer of skin.

Giraffes pluck the leaves and twigs from the branches with their lips and their up to 40 centimeter long gripping tongue.

Male and female giraffes have different feeding techniques: males hold their heads up and eat the top branches bare. Females keep their heads slightly lowered and feed on lower branches.

A full-grown giraffe needs around 80 kilograms of plant food per day.

Drinking is difficult for giraffes: Since their heads do not reach the water because of their long legs, they have to spread their front legs to get to the ground.

Giraffes can also do without water for a long time in dry seasons.