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Some amazing facts and information for kids about the lives of Giraffes in Africa
Giraffes are the tallest land animals. A giraffe could look into a second-floor window without even having to stand on its tipeetoes! A giraffe’s 6-foot-long neck weighs about 600 pounds. The legs of a giraffe are also 6 feet long. The back legs look shorter than the front legs, but they are actually about the same length.
There is only one species of giraffe. The recognized subspecies include reticulated, Nubian, Uganda or Baringo, Masai, Angolan, and southern. The different kinds can be recognized by their spots and also by where they live in Africa. Masai giraffes, from Kenya, have spots that look like oak leaves. Other kinds have a square-shaped pattern that looks like the giraffe is covered by a net.
The Giraffe – DID YOU KNOW?
• Eats up to 75 pounds of food a day (typically Acacia leaves)
• Favorite food – Acacia Leaves
• Giraffes have bluish-purple tongues which which are about 18 inches long and are tough and covered in bristly hair to help them with eating the thorny Acacia trees.
• Have a four chambered stomach and will regurgitate their food for additional chewing
• Get most of their water from the Acacia leaf, but will drink up to 10 gallons of water a day.
• Giraffes can moo, hiss, roar and whistle to communicate with one another
• Have the longest tail of any land mammal – up to 8 feet long, including the tuft at the end.
• Ancient Romans and Greeks thought that the Giraffe was a mix between a camel and a leopard.
• Their heart is 2 feet long and weighs about 25 pounds
• They have the highest known blood pressure of any mammal in the world… remember Melman the Giraffe in ‘Madagascar’
• Their heart beats up to 170 times/minute
• Jugular vein contains a series of one way valves that prevent the back flow of blood when the Giraffes head is down to drink water. This prevents the Giraffe from blacking out.
• The heart pumps about 16 gallons of blood/minute
• Oxpeckers(tick birds) are often seen “hitching” a ride on the backs of Giraffes. They help keep the Giraffe parasite free by eating ticks and other parasites off of the Giraffes skin.
Extreme care must be taken when scientists catch Giraffes for study or for capture for a zoo. If the Scientists run the Giraffe too long, the Giraffe will suffer a heart attack due to its high blood pressure. Scientists usually target younger Giraffes for this reason.
• Have no tear ducts, although they have been seen crying
• Have never been seen bathing – UGH!
Despite its extreme length, the Giraffes neck is actually too short to reach the ground. As a result, it has to awkwardly spread its front legs or kneel on its front legs in order to reach the ground to drink water.
• It is the tallest animal in the world Males grow to about 16-18 feet and Females 14-16 feet
• Males weigh up to 2,000 pounds; Females are a bit lighter
Both male and female giraffes have two distinct, hair-covered horns called ossicones. Male giraffes use their horns to playfully fight with one another
• Male giraffes sometimes fight with their necks over female giraffes. This is called “necking”. The two giraffes stand side by side and one giraffe swings his head and neck, hitting his head against the other giraffe. Sometimes one giraffe is hit to the ground during a combat.
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