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Giraffe Facts

Size Up to 18.7 ft (5.7 m)
Speed Up to 34 mph (55 km/h)
Weight Up to 1.93 tons
Lifespan 20-25 years
Food Leaves
Predators Lions,leopards, hyenas
Habitat Southern Africa
Order Even-toed ungulates
Family Giraffidae
Scientific name Giraffa camelopardalis
Characteristics Tallest terrestrial animal (height)

Main Characteristics

The giraffe is the tallest terrestial animal in the world. It grows up to 18.7 feet (5.7 meters). It lives in Africa and its habitat is the savannah.

Giraffe Photo: kaczor58/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance


Humans rub their eyes with their fingers. A giraffe does it with its tongue. The tongue is blue-grey and up ot 20 inch (50 cm) long. In order to get at the tasty leaves, the giraffe also uses its tongue, winds it round a branch and pulls off the leaves. Thorns do not bother the giraffes.


How many cervical vertebrae does a Giraffe have? More than a human, don’t you think? Wrong! Giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae, just like humans. Interesting: The neck of a giraffe is up to 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) long and weigh 550 lb (250 kg)!


Why does a giraffe have spots? Viewed from a close distance, the giraffe’s coat pattern looks rather conspicuous. You may ask yourself: Is the giraffe tired of life? Such an unusual coat should be easy to detect for animals of prey. Yet, the large blotches indeed serve as camouflage. They make the giraffe look like a tree or part of the landscape from larger distances. By the way, the blotches of male giraffes get darker in the course of time.

With Their Spots They Beat the Heat

The spots also help the giraffe to adjust its body temperature. There are large blood vessels around each of the dark patches, right underneath the bright lines. Small blood vessels branch off underneath the patch. To cool off, the giraffe sends blood to the center of the patches. They work like "windows" through which the giraffe can release heat.

Blood Pressure

Giraffes have the highest blood pressure of all animals. Yet, they do not suffer from this, it is even rather important for them. After all, the blood has to be pumped through the long and heavy neck up to the head somehow. Otherwise, giraffes would faint every time they lower their head to drink. In addition to the high blood pressure, vessel valves and a heart weighing 26 lb (12 kg) ensure that giraffes do not lose consciousness.

The Difference Between Male and Female

Male giraffes are larger than the females, but this piece of information is not sufficient to distinguish them from each other. Animals of different ages could stand next to each other, e.g. a young male animal next to his larger mother. Yet, there is an easy trick: Look at the horns. Male animals have thick horns without any tufts of fur. Female animals have thin horns with tufts of fur.

Giraffe Photo: moizhusein/Shutterstock


Drinking Water

How do giraffes drink water? It is well known that camels can do without water for a long time. A giraffe can survive even longer without water.

Giraffe Photo: K VanderWaal/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities


For a long time people thought that giraffes hardly utter any sounds. Yet, they do communicate on an infrasound frequency below 20 Hz most of the time. This frequency is so low that most humans cannot hear it. Giraffes can detect these unbelievably deep sounds over large distances and thus stay in contact with each other.


Giraffes babies come into the world after 14-15 months. With their body weight of about 50 kg they fall on the ground from a height of almost 6.56 feet (2 meters) without getting injured. At first they feel a bit groggy and wobbly on their legs, but they are able to walk after a short while. If giraffe mothers are concerned about their young, they utter barking sounds. The little ones reply bleating, mewing or mooing.

Giraffe Photo: Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

Giraffe vs. Lion - Who Wins?

A healthy adult giraffe can kill a lion with a kick of its hoofs.

The Giraffe Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

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