| Latin Name
| Conservation Status
||Sandy with Brown Patches
||3.8 - 4.7 m (9.75 - 15 ft)
||78 - 100 cm (31 - 39 inches)
||0.6 - 1.9 tonnes (0.5 - 2 tons)
| Life Expectancy
||25 Yrs (Wild)
28 Yrs (In Captivity)
Giraffes are the tallest of all land living animals. They have a body length between 3.8 and 4.7 m (9.75 - 15 ft), a tail length between 78 and 100 cms (31 - 39 inches), a shoulder height between 4 and 4.7 m (13.1 - 15.4 ft) and they weigh between 0.6 and 1.9 tonnes (0.5 - 2 tons).
Giraffes have long legs, a sloping back and an extremely long neck. They have a long muzzle, medium sized ears and large eyes. On the top of their head they have bony horns called ossicones, especially the adult males, which makes their total height to the top of their horn tips between 4.7 and 5.3 m (15.4 - 17.4 ft) and for females 3.9 - 4.5 m (12.8 - 14.8 ft).
Their coat is short and sandy coloured with various shaped patches coloured different shades of brown. Their mane is short and it stands upright and they have a dark tassel of hair at the tip of their tail.
Giraffes have long, blue/black prehensile tongues which can be extended more than 45 cms (18 inches) and they use them for grasping food. They also have unique 2 or 3 lobed canine teeth which can be used like a comb to strip leaves from branches.
The heart of a Giraffe can weigh up to 10 Kgs (22 lbs) and be approximately 61 cms (2 ft) long. It has to generate double the normal blood pressure for an average large mammal in order to maintain blood flow to the brain. In the upper neck Giraffes have a complex pressure regulation system that prevents excess blood flow to the brain when the Giraffe lowers its head to drink.
Male Giraffes often engage in a ritual called "necking". This is where they both swing their neck into each other. This can be used as a form of combat or in an affectionate manner.
Giraffes are found in Africa but are becoming increasingly rare in the west. They live on open grasslands that are scattered with trees.
Giraffes live in loose herds of up to 20 individuals which change daily and these herds mainly consist of females and occasionally some younger males. Mature males often live solitary lifestyles roaming around in search of breeding females.
A Giraffes home range averages at approximately 160 Kms (99 miles) and males are non-territorial, although a dominance hierarchy is determined by a ritualized fight called "necking".
Giraffes feed mainly from acacia and commiphora (myrrh) trees. Because of their height they easily pluck the leaves from the tops of these tall trees.
A Giraffe can eat up to 63 Kgs (140 lbs) of leaves and twigs per day.
After a gestation period of approximately 457 days, 1 calf is born (2 calves are rare). Birthing usually occurs in the dry season and the mother generally gives birth standing up.
New born calves weigh up to 70 Kgs (155 lbs) and they stand at 1.8 - 2m (5.9 - 6.6 ft) tall. Within a few hours of being born they can run around, however for the first two weeks they spend most of their time lying down being guarded by their mother.
After that they spend the next 4 - 5 months with other calves in nursery groups called creches. This enables the mother to go and forage while the calves rest and socialize.
Young Giraffes are weaned at 13 months and they reach sexual maturity between 4 and 5 years of age, although it is unlikely that males will get to mate until the are over 8 years old.
Adult Giraffes are too large to be attacked by most predators but the main predators of young Giraffes are lions, leopards, african wild dogs and hyenas.
Only 25 - 50% of Giraffe calves reach adulthood, the rest being victims of predators.
There are 9 generally accepted subspecies of Giraffe. These are:
(Giraffa camelopardalis rothchildi)
They are also known as the Baringo Giraffe or the Ugandan Giraffe. They are found in Uganda and north-central Kenya. They have deep brown, blotched or rectangular spots with poorly defined cream lines and they may have spotted hocks.
West African Giraffe
(Giraffa camelopardalis peralta)
They are also known as the Nigerian Giraffe. They are found in Niger and Cameroon. They have numerous pale yellowish/red spots.
(Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti)
They are also known as the Rhodesian Giraffe. They are found in eastern Zambia. They have star-shaped or leafy spots that extend to their lower leg.
(Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)
They are also known as the Somali Giraffe. They are found in north eastern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. They have large, polygonal liver-coloured spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. The blocks may sometimes appear deep red and may extend over their legs.
(Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi)
They are also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe. They are found in central and southern Kenya and Tanzania. They have jagged-edged, vine-leaf shaped spots of a dark chololate colour on a yellowish background.
(Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis)
They are also known as the Smoky Giraffe. They are found in Angola and Zambia. They have large spots with some notches around the edges and they extend down the entire lower leg.
(Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum)
They are found in western and south western Sudan. They have smaller more irregular shaped spots that cover the inner legs.
(Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis)
They are found in eastern Sudan and north east Congo. They have large, four-sided spots coloured chestnut brown on an off white background, and they have no spots on their inner legs or below their hocks.
South African Giraffe
(Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa)
They are found in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. They have rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to their hooves.
Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world.
Giraffes can reach speeds of over 50 Km per hour (31 mph).
The closest relative to the Giraffe is the okapi.
The neck of the Giraffe is the longest of any animal, yet it still only has 7 cervical vertebrae, as in most other mammals.
The Giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, which is between 10 minutes and 2 hours in a 24 hour period.