Giraffes are complex animals that have many impressive features. Behind that beautiful physique with spots, long neck and great height, there are a series of more internal and interesting peculiarities that define them as unique animals in the world . The giraffe is a mammal that belongs to the family Giraffidae. It is typical of Africa and is the tallest land animal in the world. Inhabits southern Sahara and northern Botswana in open spaces, grasslands and savannas.
There are nine subspecies of giraffe:
- Nubian Giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis )
- Reticulated giraffe or Somali giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata )
- Smoked giraffe or Angolan giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis )
- Kordofan giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum )
- Masai or Kilimanjaro Giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi )
- Rothschild giraffe or Uganda giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi )
- South African giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa )
- Giraffe Thornicroft or Giraffe of Rhodesia ( Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti )
- Nigerian giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis peralta )
The tallest animals on the planet
The male can reach the height of 5-6 m from their legs to the horns and weigh up to 1,930 kg. The females are approximately one meter smaller, weighing a maximum of 1180 kg. They have long necks that measure around 2.4 m long that allow them to reach the highest leaves of the trees. Their front legs are longer than the rear, so they have to open them to be able to lean to drink water or reach objects at ground level. Despite their large size, these mammals can run at 60 km / h. Giraffes can sleep just two hours in a day.
The giraffe lives exclusively in Africa, in the areas of savanna, grasslands and open forests. Its range is quite dispersed, from Chad to South Africa, and from Niger to Somalia.
In addition, giraffes are social animals and do not usually fear man. They live in herds of approximately ten copies and are open groups, without strong social ties, whose members are constantly changing.
How tall is a giraffe's neck?
As is well known, the giraffe is the tallest animal in the terrestrial world, being able to exceed 5 meters high . What stands out most in his figure is, without a doubt, his long neck , which can measure up to two meters and which serves to obtain food from trees without difficulty. Its huge vertebrae measure about 28 centimeters each.
Giraffes are herbivorous and ruminant animals . Its fundamental diet is acacia leaves, its favorite dish and one of the trees that reaches more height.
On the other hand, Giraffa camelopardalis is an animal adapted to arid terrain and can endure up to three days without drinking water, since the liquids are obtained, in large part, from the leaves and fruits they consume.
As for reproduction, giraffes reach sexual maturity at approximately six years. As a curiosity, males are able to detect fertility by testing females' urine.
Gestation is long and lasts around 15 months. Normally, they have only one baby per childbirth, although on exceptional occasions they can give birth to twins. From the moment they are born, the young know how to walk and weigh around 100 kilos. His life expectancy is around 25 years.
Giraffes have a very long tongue
The main food of giraffes is acacia leaves. They contain a lot of moisture, and due to this, animals do not drink for a long time. The tongue, the length of which reaches half a meter, helps them reach the foliage at a height.
What giraffe eat
To understand what the giraffe feeds on, we must know that they are ruminant animals, that is, that it has four stomachs, and a slower digestion than the rest of the animals. Thanks to their physical characteristics, giraffes can access treetops, and since their tongue is insensitive to thorns, they can feed on a wide variety of fruits and sprouts, especially those tender and juicy that save you from drinking water during days. The feeding of giraffes is mainly based on acacia and myrrh, two very common trees in African savannas. On average, a giraffe can eat up to 65 kg of food a day.
What does it mean for two giraffes to rub their necks?
Giraffes are deceptive: it may seem to us to see two of them rubbing their necks that are giving affection. On the contrary, this behavior is an expression of rivalry and is the basis of violent combats that are established to prove their strength against females.
A very interesting thing about giraffes is that all those spots that we see covering your skin are really unique. There are no two giraffes that have the same spots, because they work just like fingerprints for humans, they identify us.
The skin of giraffes is so strong that they make shields out of it
According to Ekaterina Morozova, a leading zoologist in the mammals department of the Moscow Zoo, giraffes feel fine in a normal situation, their extreme physiology does not cause them any inconvenience. On the contrary, due to strong skin, they are more resistant, for example, to bleeding. The skin of a giraffe is so thick that the Masai tribe make shields out of it. Therefore, giving a giraffe an injection is a big problem. The drugs are given to animals using flying syringes, which are fired from a kind of gun.
Giraffe is very difficult to treat
Only a veterinarian with special skills can give an injection to a giraffe: you need to get the beast in the chest, because the needle does not pierce the skin on the croup, legs or withers. It is also necessary to lay a sleeping giraffe in a special way: they press the body with some soft construction like a haystack, otherwise the head that falls from a height of six meters will be smashed to the ground.
In addition, giraffes, like other ruminants, chew food several times, belching poorly digested food back into the oral cavity. If a sleepy giraffe lowers its head, it will be choked with food mass - chewing gum.
In order to make a giraffe any operation, you need 10-15 people who support, lay the animal, do not let it fall. To facilitate this process, giraffes from the age of two begin to train to go into a special box, give legs so that veterinarians can take blood, and so on.
This is called medical training. On average, giraffes agree to “collaborate” with veterinarians after 5–6 years of regular practice.
Due to the extremes of physiology, giraffes are very well adapted to their living conditions and make full use of a niche inaccessible to other animals. And since they do not know that their body works at the limit of the possible, they are unlikely to worry about themselves. But such an accurate adjustment to the environment makes them very vulnerable even to its small changes - the danger of extinction looms before beautiful animals.
Giraffes in danger of extinction
The giraffe has been an animal hunted and persecuted throughout history. It extracted meat, skin and other parts of his body that were used to make certain products such as necklaces, purses, shoes or ornaments.
The current state of the giraffe is listed as vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Deforestation, with the consequent reduction of its natural habitat, as well as hunting, are the main threats they face.
Although it is a generally protected animal, it is still subject to hunting and persecution. In fact, the subspecies of Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi and the Giraffa camelopardalis peralta are in serious danger of extinction , with very few specimens in the wild. To defend this animal, the species has its own World Giraffe Day .