Hey Kids! Did you know that giraffes are the world’s tallest land mammal? Scientists believe they have been on earth for millions of years! To learn more about giraffes check out these amazing giraffe facts for kids!
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What is a Giraffe?
The scientific name for a giraffe is giraffa camelopardalis. Giraffes are the tallest land mammal on earth.
There is one species of giraffe but 9 total sub-species. The sub-species are Rothschild’s Giraffe, West African Giraffe, Thornicroft Giraffe, Reticulated Giraffe, Masai Giraffe, Angolan Giraffe, Kordofan Giraffe, Nubian Giraffe, and South African Giraffe.
A male giraffe is called a bull. A female giraffe is called a cow. Baby giraffes are called calves.
What does a giraffe look like?
Giraffes can be a variety of colors including shades of brown, tan, and orange. They have brown patches/spots all over their bodies like a human’s fingerprint no two giraffes have the same pattern of patches/spots. The darker a giraffe’s patches/spots are, the older he/she is. Giraffes have short light-colored hairs that go down the back of their neck. If you look at a giraffe’s eyes you will notice long light-colored eyelashes.
Both male and female giraffes have horns covered with hair on the top of their heads. These horns are called ossicones. Their ossicones are formed from ossified cartilage that is covered with skin. Giraffes are born with their horns. When they are born their horns lay flat across their head and aren’t attached to their skull. As the giraffe grows their horns will fuse with their skull and stand straight up on top of their head. Sometimes male giraffes will use their horns when fighting against other giraffes.
Giraffes are very tall. They are the world’s tallest land animals. Their necks along are 6ft long. A male giraffe can be up to 19 ft tall and weigh between 2,400 -3,000 pounds. A female giraffe can be up to 16 ft tall and weigh between 1,600 -2,600 pounds.
Giraffes have very long legs. Their front legs are slightly taller than their back legs. Giraffes also have the longest tail of any land animal. Their tails can be 8 ft long!
A giraffe’s tongue can be 18-20 inches long and is a dark color. They can clean their ears with their tongue!
A giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 24 pounds and be 2 ft long.
Where do Giraffes Live?
Giraffes live in African savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands.
Scientists believe that giraffes have been on earth for 30-50 million years.
A giraffe can live 25 years in the wild and 30 in captivity.
Giraffes live in herds of about 20.
What do Giraffes Eat?
Giraffes are herbivores meaning they do not eat meat. Giraffes use their long necks to get food from up in the trees. They eat leaves and twigs mostly from acacia, mimosa, and wild apricot trees. They can eat up to 140 pounds of food a day. A giraffe’s neck is very long but it isn’t long enough to reach water to drink as a result a giraffe must bend its front legs in order for it to reach water to drink. Luckily giraffes only need to drink every few days.
Female giraffes are pregnant for 15 months and give birth standing up. Baby giraffes are called calves. A calf can weigh 155 pounds and be 6 feet tall at birth. By the time they turn one a calf will double its size. Baby giraffes can stand one hour after they are born. They drink milk from their mother for 9-12 months at around 4 months old they will start to eat leaves. When a baby giraffe is born its horns will lay flat on its head within a couple of days the horns will pop up and stand straight up.
Mothers take care of the baby giraffes. They make sure they eat, have shelter, and are protected from predators. Baby giraffes are considered adults by the time they turn 4 or 5.
Predators of giraffes include lions, leopards packs of hyenas, and wild dogs. Sadly only 25-50% of baby giraffes make it to adulthood. Many babies are attacked by predators and killed. A giraffe defends itself from predators by kicking. They can kick so hard that it can kill a lion.
Amazing Giraffe Facts for Kids
Giraffes don’t sleep that long. On average they sleep only 5- 30 minutes a day! Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up, they usually sleep standing up, sometimes they will sit down.
Giraffes can go longer than a camel without water.
Their average lifespan in the wild is 25 years.
Sometimes male giraffes will perform a behavior called necking. Necking is when a giraffe will swing its neck at another giraffe usually to show dominance. They will also use their horns to headbutt other giraffes in battle.
They can run 35 miles per hour.
Like human fingerprints, no two giraffes have the same spots/patches.
Giraffes communicate by making snorting, hissing, and flute-like sounds.