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Giraffes: Fun Facts

Shara Burger | Wildlife

  1. Giraffe can reach between 4 and 5.5 meters in height. These elegant animals are the tallest mammals on earth, at 6 feet, their legs alone stand higher than most people! Understandably, they also weigh a lot and can reach up to 1900kgs!
  2. They also have 32 teeth, just like humans. However, their teeth are positioned in the front of the bottom jaw and the back of their top jaw, this allows them to use the full extent of their tongue when foraging.
  3. Giraffe’s feed off leaves and twigs from the tops of trees where other browsers can’t reach giving them a real advantage. They are pure vegetarians, however, occasionally you will come across a giraffe chewing on a bone – this behavior is known as osteophagy. This helps them to get more calcium and phosphorus into their bodies.
  4. Thanks to their height, giraffe are possibly one of the best pollinators in the natural world. As they move along feeding between the treetops, they transfer the flower’s genetic material on their muzzles and so assist with cross pollination.
  5. Their tongues are 20 inches long and are a dark blue colour which is thought to protect them from sun damage while feeding.
  6. The giraffe’s scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis, comes from the ancient Greeks who believed that these animals looked like camels wearing a leopard’s coat.
  7. No two giraffes are the same, their unique coats are exactly like human fingerprints – each animal is an individual.
  8. For many years it was thought that giraffes were mute, but infact they do make low pitche noises as that are often beyond the range of human hearing. They also snort, bellow and can make flute-like sounds.
  9. Giraffe have a dense network of capillaries known as the ‘rete mirabile’, these help to cushion the brain against extreme changes in blood pressure as the animals lower or lift their necks by up to 5 meters. If it weren’t for these tiny capillaries the huge beasts could pass out!
  10. Although they are known as gentle giants, giraffe can inflict a very nasty kick to predators that venture too close (they have even been recorded killing a lion). The males also fight quite viciously during the mating period. These fights are known as necking, the males stand side- by-side and swing their necks at each other using their knobby heads and horns as a club.

Tanda Tula- giraffe portrait in the Greater Kruger

Tanda Tula - giraffe eating in the Greater Kruger, South Africa

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