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Giraffe Baby
Giraffe Baby

Giraffe Habits

Giraffes are sociable by nature. They live in groups but do not form permanent herds. Bulls (adult males) have an identifiable pecking order, which is established through the ritual of neck wrestling. A strange bull entering an area will be challenged by the dominant male. They will proceed to butt heads (their skulls are particularly strong) until one of them retreats.

Giraffe Communication

Giraffes communicate infrasonically (through low-pitched sounds), and by touch. As with horses, their skins are very sensitive; touch can relay messages throughout a herd.

Giraffes also sometimes vocalize to one another by grunts or whistle-like cries. When alarmed, a giraffe grunts or snorts to warn neighboring giraffes of the danger. Mother giraffes can whistle to their young calves. Also, cows search for their lost young by making bellowing calls. The calves return their mother's calls by bleating or mewing. While courting an estrous cow, male giraffes may cough raucously.

A giraffe relies on its height for vision. This height allows it to have continual visual contact with the rest of the heard, even from quite a distance. Giraffes also have acute eyesight: a giraffe can spot predators at a distance and can prepare to alert its family.

Giraffe Breeding

When a giraffe cow (or female) is ready to mate, she attracts all the mature bulls in the area. The dominant bull wins her by driving off all the other males.

The young are born fifteen months later at a calving ground where they remain for the early part of their lives. The same calving grounds are used time after time by many females. That way, when the mothers go off to feed during the day, the calves are left to protect one another. Even so, half of the calves die in the first 6 months from attacks by hyenas, leopards, and wild dogs.

As the calf grows older, it begins to roam with its mother. Its main predator is the lion. After calves are a year old, their mortality rate drops below 10 percent.

While the mother will mate 5 months after giving birth, her calf is not weaned until it is 15 months old. Young females stay in their mothers' home ranges, but young males wander away at about 3 years old.

Giraffe Food & Feeding

The giraffe browses for its food, which consists of the leaves and shoots of trees and shrubs.

Thorny acacia trees pose little problem for the giraffe; the giraffe picks off individual shoots and bunches of leaves from between the thorns with its tongue, which can be up to 18 inches long. Plants without thorns are stripped of their leaves as the giraffe pulls the whole length of smaller branches through its teeth.

The male and female feed from different part of a tree. The female forages among the lower branches while the male feeds from the higher braches. This behavior ensures that the sexes do not have to compete for the same food within their range.

Giraffe Key Facts

              Height: Height including horns: Male, 15-17 feet. Female 12-15 feet.
              Weight: Males, 1,765-4,255 lb. Female, 1,215-2,600 lb
             Sexual maturity: Males, 3 1/2 years. Female, 4-5 years
             Mating: Anytime
             Gestation: 453-465 days
             Number of young: Usually one calf
            Habit: Mostly diurnal, but often nocturnal as well. Loosely bound groups
            Diet: Leaves from trees, shrubs, climbers, vines, and some herbs
            Lifespan: 25 years in the wild



  • A giraffe's long neck has the same number of vertebrae, seven as most other mammals have. But the giraffes' are greatly elongated.
  • A giraffe is one of the few animals born with horns. A baby giraffe's horns lie flat against the skull when it is born and pop upright during the first week of life.
  • The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world, with even new-born babies being taller than most humans.
  • Baby Giraffes can stand within half an hour and after only 10 hours can actually run alongside their family.
  • Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth standing up.

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