Giraffes are tall, graceful creatures that are native to Africa. They are the tallest land animals and can reach up to 18 feet in height and can weigh more than 4,000 pounds. Giraffes are most known for their long, slender necks, which average about 6 feet long, and the unique markings on their fur.
1. Babies, or calves, spend the first few weeks of their life with their mother but then join a nursery group of other young calves called a creche. These young calves spend four or five months in the nursery group until they are matured. The groups are often left unattended by the adult giraffes while the adults forage for food. Giraffes are tall animals and so are the babies. Baby giraffes are born 6 feet tall and can grow up to an inch a day, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park website.
Giraffe Defense Habits
2. Giraffes protect themselves using the few defenses they have: long necks and legs. Male giraffes sometimes spar with other males by swinging their long necks and horned heads at their foes. These battles rarely result in any injuries and are done mostly for sport and entertainment. Female giraffes protect their young and themselves by kicking predators with their long powerful legs and big hooves. These kicks can be fatal to the predator.
Giraffe Sleeping Habits
3. Giraffes are very watchful of predators and don’t sleep very much because of this. Giraffes only sleep from a half hour to two hours a day, and it is usually in short naps about five minutes long. Giraffes sometimes sleep while standing up but lie down to sleep as well. When they nap while standing up they remain alert and leave one eye open. At night, one giraffe will stand watch while the others lie down to sleep briefly.
Giraffe Feeding Habits
4. Giraffes are herbivores that feed on moisture-rich vegetation such as acacia leaves. Due to the large amount of water in these leaves, giraffes can actually go weeks without drinking water, although they still seek out water every few days. Due to the fact that giraffes have legs longer than their necks, giraffes have to awkwardly splay their legs out to each side in order to lower their heads far enough to get water.
5. Giraffes’ patchwork markings on their fur help them hide among trees so it is harder for predators to see them. Each marking on each giraffe is unique, much as how each human fingerprint is unique. Ancient Romans first encountered giraffes on military campaigns to Egypt. They called the animal cameleopards because they said the giraffes had the body of a camel with the markings of a leopard. The giraffe species name, camelopardalis, refers to this Roman nickname, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park website.