Characteristics of giraffes
The giraffe is the tallest land animal. It can grow to over 16 feet tall. To give you an idea, its legs alone can measure over six feet, much taller than the average human being. In terms of weight, males can weigh over 3,500 pounds whereas females weigh around 1,750 pounds.
In addition to its height, another of the giraffe’s most notable features is its dark spots. They are black or brown, in contrast with its yellowish fur, and can be geometric or round. Like the spots or stripes on other animals (zebras, tigers, and others), giraffes’ spots are unique to each individual, like human beings’ fingerprints. It also has two small, beautiful horns on its head.
According to the latest genetic studies, there is not just one species of giraffe, but rather four types, some of which have their own subspecies. Each can be distinguished in large part by the design, size, and color of its spots and fur. The most notable differences are between the reticulated giraffe and the Masai giraffe; while the first has round spots, the second has geometric spots.
Habitat of giraffes
The giraffe only lives in Africa in areas of savanna, meadows, and open forests. Its area of distribution is fairly scattered, from Chad to South Africa and from Niger to Somalia.
The giraffe is a sociable animal and usually not afraid of humans. It lives in herds of approximately ten individuals. The groups are open, without strong social ties, and the members are constantly changing.
How long is a giraffe’s neck?
As many know, the giraffe is the tallest land animal, reaching heights of over 16 feet. The most remarkable thing about its body is undoubtedly its long neck, which can be up to six and a half feet long and enables it to easily get food from high up in the trees. Each of its enormous vertebrae are 11 inches long.
Diet of the giraffe
The giraffe is an herbivore and ruminant. Its diet mainly consists of acacia leaves, which is its favorite food and also one of the tallest trees.
On the other hand, the Giraffe camelopardalis is an animal that has adapted to arid lands. It can live for up to three days without water, given that it obtains a large part of the water it needs from the leaves and fruit it eats.
In terms of reproduction, the giraffe reaches sexual maturity as approximately six years of age. A curious fact about this animal is that males are able to detect fertility by tasting the urine of females.
Gestation is long, lasting around 15 months. It normally has only one young per birth, but on exceptional occasions it can give birth to twins. From the time they are born, the young know how to walk and already weigh around 220 pounds. Its life expectancy is around 25 years in captivity.
Giraffes at risk of extinction
The giraffe has been chased and hunted throughout history. The meat, skin, and other body parts are used to create products such as necklaces, wallets, shoes, or accessories.
The giraffe is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Deforestation, with the consequent reduction in natural habitat, as well as hunting are the main threats it faces.
Despite the fact that it is generally a protected animal, it continues to be chased and hunted. In fact, the Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi and the Giraffa camelopardalis peralta subspecies are at severe risk of extinction, with very few individuals in the wild. To defend this animal, the species has its very own World Giraffe Day.