This animal is well known for its super long neck and towering height – it is the tallest mammal in the world, after all, so that isn’t much of a surprise. I bet you already know who I’m talking about – it’s the giraffe!
Native to the continent Africa, there are many other interesting things to learn about this amazing animal besides the obvious. Read these very interesting facts so you can surprise your friends and family with your newfound giraffe knowledge.
▪ Giraffes like to live in very dry climates! You can find them in savannas, grasslands, and open forests. Since giraffes are native to Africa, a very hot and dry place, they can definitely take the heat!
▪ Giraffes like to roam and browse for their food, with Acacia leaves and shoots making up the most of their diet. They also enjoy leaves, herbs, and vines. Despite popular belief, most giraffes do not eat very much grass. Giraffes do, however, spend a lot of their time eating in general – it has been estimated that during certain times of the year giraffes spend 75 percent of their time roaming for food and eating!
▪ Giraffes don’t need much water despite being extremely large! They only take the occasional drink (about once every few days), so they are often found far away from water sources.
▪ As we mentioned, the giraffe is the tallest type of mammal in the entire world. Do you realize how many tall mammals there are? Yet the giraffe outgrows them all! A male giraffe can grow up to 18 feet (5.5 meters), while a female giraffe can grow up to 14 feet (4.3 meters). The legs of a giraffe average about six feet (1.8 meters) – that’s actually taller than some humans are!
▪ Giraffes also have the longest tail of any mammal. Their tails can be up to 8 feet (or 2.4 meters) long.
▪ Even though giraffes have very long necks their necks are too short to reach the ground because of their tall height. This means when giraffes have to get a drink of water, they have to bend their front legs awkwardly to reach the ground. Imagine if you had to do that just to get a drink of water! Pretty crazy isn’t it?
▪ Giraffes aren’t only tall, they can weigh quite a lot, too! The average male giraffe weighs between 2,400 to 3,000 pounds, while the average female can weigh anywhere from 1,600 to 2,600 pounds!
▪ Both male and female giraffes have two horns on their head. These horns are called ossicones and many males giraffes have thicker, less hairy ossicones than female giraffes, due to sparring with other male giraffes.
▪ The spots on a giraffe are very distinctive, and interestingly enough, no two giraffes have the same set of spots. Just like two snowflakes or sets of fingerprints are not the same either! Now that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Even the giraffes are telling us that being unique is awesome!
▪ Here’s a funny mental image – giraffes, despite being very tall and very heavy, can run pretty quickly for their size! The average giraffe will surprise you by running as fast as 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour over shorter distances, and 10 miles (16 kilometers) per hour over longer distances. You can thank those long legs for that ability!
▪ Male giraffes can be called bulls, while female giraffes can be called cows.
▪ Believe it or not, giraffes spend most of their lives standing up. Yes, you read that right! Giraffes can even sleep standing up – don’t try that one at home! Actually, giraffes don’t sleep that often anyway. Many giraffes only require 5 to 30 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour period, which of course is far less than the 7 or 8 hours we humans need.
▪ Believe it or not, giraffes can stand up within an hour of being born! They’re pretty far ahead of us humans aren’t they?
▪ Believe it or not, the giraffe has the biggest heart of any land animal. A giraffe’s heart is typically 2 feet long and weighs around 25 pounds (11) kilogram. A giraffe’s heart weighs the same as the average two year old!
▪ Certain kinds of giraffes are now endangered – this means they are at danger of becoming extinct. The West African giraffe and the Rothschild’s giraffe are both endangered. As a whole, the population of giraffes has decreased over the years, making some animal conservationists very worried. In 1999 there were an estimated more than 140,000 giraffes in Africa, while today the estimation is less than 80,000 giraffes.