Giraffes are one of the world’s most amazing animals. They are a part of the Giraffidae family, with the only other member being the okapi. These even-toed ungulates tower over all other animals and are the world’s tallest living mammals. Once having a wide range over Africa, today they can only be found spread out throughout the Subsaharan in open woodlands and savannas. A giraffe’s height is extraordinary, but there are other amazing things to learn about this animal. Here are ten incredible facts that you should know about giraffes.
1. A Giraffe’s Neck Can Be Over 7 Feet
A giraffe’s neck is one of its most notable features, and can even weigh as much as 600 pounds. The neck of each giraffe varies, but some are as long as 7 feet tall, making up over half its height. This allows the animal to reach tall leaves in trees and scan the area for nearby predators.
Male giraffes can even be observed “necking”, which is where they fight by swinging their large necks at each other. Humans and giraffes have the same number of vertebrae, but theirs can be over 10 inches long.
2. Giraffes Have A Blood Pressure Double Of Humans
Giraffes have the highest blood pressure of any other animal which they need to survive because of their massive height. To have a normal blood pressure of 110/70 their heart is extremely powerful and has a blood pressure of around 220/80. Humans only have a blood pressure of around 120/80Hg, and if they had the same as giraffes it would be deadly!
Giraffes have an amazing cardio-circulatory system optimized for their large size. Their heart is small for its size but is surrounded by thick muscles in the left ventricle to pump blood all the way to its head. The heart can pump as fast as 170 bpm.
3. Giraffes Can Run Up To 35 mph
Giraffes are fast for their large size and can reach a top speed of 37 mph in short distances, which is faster than some horses and all humans. Their walking speed is a quick 10mph. Their speed helps avoid predators even though they are not the fastest. Lions, hyenas, and cheetahs are some of the animals they must defend themselves from.
4. Baby Giraffes Can Walk Within 30 min And Are 6 Feet Tall
Baby giraffes are tall when they are born and are usually around 6 feet in height. Even with their large size, they are still able to walk within about 30 minutes of being born. When learning how to walk it can resemble an infant as it stumbles around. Babies need to be quick when learning as it can be a matter of life or death. Mothers will kick their babies as motivation for them to stand. Predators are always lurking, so they must be able to walk quickly to be able to keep up with their families.
5. Giraffes Can Survive On 30 Minutes Of Sleep
On average, a giraffe will sleep around 4.6 hours a day. At night is when they sleep the most but they will take short naps throughout the day. Compared to other animals giraffes can survive off an extremely short amount of sleep. They are able to survive off only 30 minutes of sleep and operate regularly. Giraffes are an animal that sleeps standing up, occasionally laying down. To avoid predators they sleep standing up and only for short periods of time.
6. Giraffes Eat Over 75 Pounds Of Food A Day
Giraffes are ruminants and have four compartments in their stomach. They chew their food and swallow it twice. Their different stomach compartments help them easily digest food. Being so large, giraffes need to be constantly eating to survive. Giraffes eat up to 75 lbs of food a day, mostly eating leaves from trees like the acacia. Giraffes will spend around 18 hours a day eating.
7. Giraffes Are Amazing Pollinators
While Many people don’t know this, giraffes are one of Africa‘s greatest pollinators. Like bees, they transfer pollen from tree to tree. Pollen gets stuck on their body then transfers to the next plant while they eat. Acacia leaves and flowers are their preferred food and they spend most of their day foraging and pollinating.
8. Giraffes Can Go 21 Days Without Drinking Water
Giraffes can go up to 21 days without drinking water, which is longer than a camel. This is because of their diet and constant eating, where they get water from the leaves that they eat. When a giraffe does drink, it can consume as much as 54 liters in one sitting. Funny enough, their necks are not long enough for them to reach the ground and drink, so they must spread their legs and squat.
9. Giraffes Live In Groups Called Towers
Giraffes live together in large numbers in groups called towers. Each tower has around 10 to 20 members. Some towers have been as large as 50 giraffes. Each group is different and can consist of all-female, males, or a mix. A large group of giraffes is more equipped to handle predators. Members of the tower can come and go as they please.
10. Each Giraffe Has A Unique Spot Pattern
Each giraffe has its own distinctive pattern of spots–no two giraffe coats are exactly alike!
One of the giraffe’s most distinctive features is its spots and each giraffe has a unique pattern of spots on them, similar to a human and their fingerprint. Spots are also one of the main factors in identifying different subspecies.
For the average individual, it is hard to tell the difference between a giraffe’s spots, but giraffes who live together use it to tell family members apart. Their spots are not just for looks but are also used for camouflage and releasing heat.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © John Ceulemans/Shutterstock.com
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