The giraffe is one of the most ungainly animals which you can imagine. Its scientific name is the giraffa camelopardilis it is the biggest ruminant and the tallest creature known. It has a very long neck which sports a short stubbly mane; it’s high shoulders that slope back to the hindquarters. Additionally, it has long legs that are about the same length. The male can be up to 11 feet tall, and the female is about 2 feet shorter in the shoulders.
There are eight subspecies of the giraffe that may be found in the savannas south of the Sahara Desert. To reticulated giraffe that’s located north of Kenya has the most distinguishing latticework of narrow lines dividing the dark patches and is the very distinctive pattern of any creature. The so called Masai giraffe of East Africa displays the most distinctive pattern of any of the giraffes.
The giraffes were formally found throughout Africa south of the Sahara Desert anywhere the trees grew. It was eliminated from the majority of West Africa and the southern Kalahari range but it is still common in East Africa even outside of game preserves.
This animal was made to exploit a six-foot band of foliage beyond the reach of any other terrestrial browser except the elephant. It has an 18 inch prehensile tongue and a modified atlas-axis joint in its neck that allows its head to assume that almost vertical position which further increases its height advantage. Giraffes can graze the crown of little trees. A big bull giraffe can graze as high is 19 feet, a yard higher than the cows. They feed mainly on deciduous trees during the rainy season; but during the dry season they feed mainly on citrus trees. They have a menu which includes over a hundred species but they feed on acacia and combretum trees are what they most often consume. Having a narrow muzzle and extremely flexible lips along with an 18 inch prehensile Tongue permit the giraffe to meet the most nutritious leaves in amounts up to 75 pounds. This quantity of food is necessary to sustain their great bulk. The giraffe only must consume every two or three days when the water is available or it extracts water from the food it eats. It spends the dry season near Evergreen vegetation, usually along watercourses, and disperses more during the rainy season.
Bull spent about 22 percent of their time walking compared to about 13 percent for the cows. The difference is the time the Bulls spend searching for cows in heat.
The giraffe is non-territorial and social, living in loose, open herds. The young accompany the female and could be mixed into the herd. A lone bull may be solitary. The fact that giraffes feed from variably spaced trees they’re capable of moving independently, and they have a size that’s such that they have few predators. Their height and excellent eyesight enable giraffes to maintain visual sight during a long distance. The herd may be dispersed over a half a mile and still keep its presence as a herd. Even when they’re resting herd members usually stay more than 20 feet apart.
During mating season to females are more social when the men and usually stay together. Mothers of small calves usually connect with other cows at least due to mutual attraction between the calves which result in crèches of up to nine calves. The average spacing between calves is usually less than 10 yards. The males usually stay with the maternal herd until they are about three years old and no longer resemble a female.
The home range of these animals may vary widely it is usually about 63 miles square but can be as little as two miles square or as much as 250 miles square. Once they are saddled though bulls have a bigger range than cows.
A giraffe only has two gaits walk or gallop. As it has long legs and a short body it moves with an ambling walk with a walk alternately on the left side or the perfect side as do the camels. At its top speed the giraffe can gallop at about 37 mph. The four legs and hind legs act like a running rabbit. If the animal would like to have a drink it must straddle or bend its fore legs. The exact same is true of its near relative the Okapi.
It’s breeding season is year-round with the rainy season being the main period for conception. Males begin competing for females at about seven years but they continue growing which gives a senior a excellent weight advantage. The males which also gains weight with age and through bone depositation generates the knobs on the Bulls ahead these knobs increase in size with age giving the older bull even more of an advantage. Combat is rare however as the Bulls know their place in a herd hierarchy that’s established an almost daily combat while they are maturing in an all-male herd of bachelors. From the time a female is ready to mate, the local alpha male is usually illuminated his rivals through this daily combat.
For the first week or so the calf lays out for most of the day and a half of the night carefully guarded by its own mother. There are hardly any predators looking to brave the mother giraffe’s long legs since when she is guarding her calf these long legs can be quite deadly. During this period she usually stays 15 to 20 yards away from her young one. As the calf grows older it enters a maternity crèche were it is guarded by a whole bunch of females allowing its mother to go farther.
In the initial months from 50 to 75 percent of the young fall prey to lions and spotted hyenas despite their moms determined defense. As adults giraffes are too big to be prey to most predators. A mother will stand over her calf to defend it against lions or hyenas, and they’re loath to brave her long legs. A predator trying to get in the calf runs the risk of being kicked to death by the mother giraffe.
The idea that giraffes are mute is a myth, they do make sounds. Though they are typically silent a calf will mew, cows seeking lost calves will bellow, and if they are courting Bulls will make a coughing sound. Giraffes also make other noises when alerted ranging from hissing, snorting, molding and at times the flute like sound.
Now you know a lot of what a giraffe is all about!