Average male height 17 feet (5.3 meters), Weight averages 1800 pounds (800 kg ). The hoofed animals have chestnut brown blotches on buff colored fur. The spots on the fur darken as the animal ages. Giraffes have very long, flexible tongues and lips to go along with their long slender necks. The male giraffe's neck continues to grow after sexual maturity has been reached, whereas the females' neck stops growing when maturity is reached at about 10 years of age. Giraffes have seven vertebrae in their necks, just as humans do. They have very large eyes on the sides of their head , atop a periscope like neck, that give them wonderful eyesight. Also on the top of their head, they carry 2-4 stubby horns that lie under the skin . Their 8 inch ears give them a good sense of hearing.
- Standing up to 18 feet tall, the Giraffe is the tallest living land mammal. The neck alone can reach over 8 feet in length , and weight 500 lbs . Despite its length, the Giraffe has only 7 bones in its neck, the same number as humans.
- The Giraffe's long, prehensile tongue can extend its reach by 15".
- Giraffes use their height to feed high in trees where other animals cannot reach. Their height also helps them to detect approaching danger.
- The long muscular necks were once thought to be explained by Darwin's Natural Selection theory, but are now said to have come about by sexual selection. The male giraffes use their neck and head to battle for a female in estrous. The weight of the weapon, the head, produces great momentum when being swung at the chest, ribs , legs and neck of their opponent. This act, called "necking", can cause great injury and even death . At one zoo in North America, a keeper accidentally allowed two males to get into the same pen with a female in heat. The smaller male was killed when his opponent punched a hole in his neck just below the ear , splintering a vertebra and penetrating the spinal column. Experts seem to think that, because of this necking behavior, giraffes evolved through sexual selection. This also explains the fact that these animals spend 50 percent of their time grazing at bushes below their shoulder .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Dutch:
Common Names in English:
Giraffe, Masai Giraffe, Reticulated Giraffe
Species Giraffa camelopardalis
The Giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. Males may be 16-18
feet tall and weigh up to 2,000 pounds
. Females are usually lighter
and about two feet shorter. The giraffe's front legs
are only slightly
than the back ones, the height
of the fore part of the body
being largely due to the heavy muscular development of the base
The long neck has the usual seven vertebrae of most mammals, although each is greatly elongated. The giraffe's soup-plate-sized hooves are used as offensive weapons, usually in the defense of the calves . The powerful kick from the front feet can kill a lion.
The giraffe is one of the few ruminants born with horns. Both sexes have horns which are covered with skin . The horns of males are thicker and heavier and are used in fights between males.
The giraffe's canine teeth are splayed out in two or three lobes to comb the leaves off shoots . Their long black tongue, which can be extended 18 inches, is used to gather food into the mouth . To compensate for the sudden increase in blood pressure when the head is lowered, the giraffe has very elastic blood vessels and valves in the venous system of the neck.
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,163 meters (0 to 7,096 feet).
Typically associated with Acacia, Commiphora and Combretum
, but they also occur marginally in miombo Brachystegia
woodland and in Isoberlina woodland, in Cameroon (Ciofolo and Pendu
). Giraffes are selective browsers
, with Acacia species forming
the bulk of their diet
throughout the range
, but also species of
the genera Balanites, Commiphora, Detarium,
Boscia, Combretum, Ziziphus and Grewia
(Ciofolo and Pendu in press)..
List of Habitats :
- 1 Forest
- 1.5 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 2 Savanna
- 2.1 Savanna - Dry
- 2.2 Savanna - Moist
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
Giraffes are highly selective feeders
, the bulk of their diet
the leaves and shoots
, supplemented by climbers
and some herbs. Various species of acacia are favorite foods.
A large male may consume up to 75 pounds of food every 24 hours. Their stomach is like a cow's stomach, having four chambers that require the animal to chew its cud , fist sized balls of unchewed food that are regurgitated. These animals are thought to be very intelligent
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- (C. Linnaeus, 1766) McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- Owen, 1848
- Suborder: Ruminantia () - Scopoli, 1777
- Order: Cetartiodactyla () - Owen, 1848
- Mirorder: Eparctocyona () - McKenna, 1975
- Grandorder: Ungulata () - (C. Linnaeus, 1766) McKenna, 1975
- Superorder: Preptotheria () - (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- Magnorder: Epitheria () - (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- Cohort: Placentalia () - (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Supercohort: Theria () - (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Infralegion: Tribosphenida () - (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Sublegion: Zatheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Legion: Cladotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Superlegion: Trechnotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Infraclass: Holotheria () - (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Subclass: Theriiformes () - (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Class: Mammalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Members of the genus Giraffa
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 6 species and subspecies in this genus:
G. camelopardalis (Reticulated Giraffe) · G. camelopardalis giraffa (Giraffe) · G. camelopardalis peralta (Niger Giraffe) · G. camelopardalis reticulata (Reticulated Giraffe) · G. camelopardalis rothschildi (Rothschilds Giraffe) · G. camelopardalis tippelskirchi (Giraffe)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 26, 2007:
- Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Vertebrate specimens
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB, Paleobiology Database
- Michigan State University Museum, Vertebrate specimens
- Museum of Texas Tech University
- , Mammal specimens
- University of Alaska Museum of the North, University of New Mexico Museum of Southwestern Biology Mammal Collection
- University of Helsinki, Department of Applied Biology, Animal observations
- University of Washington Burke Museum, Mammal Specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 106094
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-625036
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2481042
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 625036
- IUCN ID: 211358
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 5550
- Mean = 569.790 meters (1,869.390 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,572.140 based on 24 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
- Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 February 2012. [back]