Giraffe (animal) – Information, feeding and characteristics

We explain everything about giraffes, where they live, their diet and other characteristics. Also, their reproduction and how long they live.

The giraffe is the tallest animal known on the entire planet.

What is a giraffe?

The giraffe It is a species of quadruped mammals of African origin, recognizable by their mottled fur and long neck, capable of reaching 2 meters between the torso and the head. Scientific name Giraffa camelopardalis, It is a very iconic animal of the African fauna and also the tallest animal known in the entire planet, since can reach between 5 and 6 meters in height total in its adult stage.

The name of giraffe comes from the Arabic ziraafa, translatable as “high”, and the Romans who knew it baptized it as camelopardalis, that is, a mixture of camel and leopard, undoubtedly due to the color of their fur. The first known giraffe in the West was brought to Europe by the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC), back from his campaigns in Egypt and Asia Minor.

The evolutionary origin of these animals places them in the Miocene, around eight million years ago, and together with the okapis they are the only non-extinct species of the giraffe family (Giraffidae).

Giraffes are beautiful and striking animals, which were already represented in ancient Egyptian tombs. Its preservation, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is less of a cause for concern, since giraffes are still abundant in free life or in captivity. Still, the decline of up to 40% in the total population of the species between 1895 and 2015 is alarming.

See also: Wild animals

Giraffe characteristics

giraffe characteristics
The giraffe’s tongue can reach 50 cm long.

The giraffe is characterized by the following:

  • It is a quadruped and large animal, whose weight varies between 600 and 1500 kg, and whose height can reach 6 meters. Its most recognizable features are its long neck, capable of extending for 2 meters, and its mottled, yellowish and brown fur.
  • Giraffes they are great runners, capable of reaching speeds of the order of 50 kmph in short distances. They are social animals, usually moving slowly through the African grasslands in groups of six.
  • They have a prehensile tongue that extended can reach 50 cm in length, and is black-purple in color. With it the animal can catch the leaves of the trees that it reaches thanks to its height, or clean itself.
  • They also have a one meter long tail, culminating in a lock of long dark hair.
  • As they get older males of the species develop small cranial protrusions thanks to calcium deposits.
  • They have a very acute sense of smell and hearing, and their eyes arranged one on each side of the head are capable of perceiving color. Also, their nostrils, unlike us, can be closed at will.
  • The long neck of giraffes has an unusually elastic system of valves and blood vessels, which allow you to move your head without fainting.

Where do giraffes live?

Giraffes are present in almost every zoo in the world, but their traditional habitat is grasslands or African plains, and even open forests, where they live in nomadic groups of around 20 individuals.

Its majority distribution is in sub-Saharan West Africa, Southeast Africa and the Angola and South Africa regions. Traditionally, up to 9 subspecies of giraffe have been identified, distributed throughout this territory.

What giraffe eat?

giraffe feeding what they eat
As it reaches the highest branches, the giraffe does not compete for food with other herbivores.

Giraffes They are ruminant herbivores, whose long necks allow them to reach the highest foliage of the trees, without incurring much competition with other herbivorous animals.

These leaves are not only rich in nutrients and calcium, but they also nourish the giraffe more than other herbivores because it has a particularly efficient digestive system among ruminant mammals. Their favorite trees to eat are the acacia, and the plant families of the commiphora and the terminalia.

How do giraffes reproduce?

giraffe reproduction
A newborn giraffe is around 6 feet tall.

Like all mammals, giraffes reproduce sexually and through viviparism. The males compete with each other for access to the females and usually only the most dominant ones manage to reproduce, after having defeated the others in a split neck fight, that is, through the “necking” of the species.

Giraffes gestation lasts more than a year, at the end of which they give birth to a single offspring, who is ready to walk after a short time after being born. A newborn giraffe is around 6 feet tall and is usually suckled by its mother for just a few months, at most a year.

How long do giraffes live?

In its wild habitat, a giraffe lives an average of 25 years, as they are customary prey for lions, Nile crocodiles and leopards. In captivity, however, they can live well beyond this limit.