Jun 17

Gorgeous Giraffes

by in Africa, Botswana

Giraffes are one of the main animals in both the Kalahari and the Okavango delta (the camp we’re in). Normally Mom’s animal is the giraffe and mine the elephant but I wanted to write about something else so my mom generously agreed to let me borrow her animal.

When we first saw a giraffe we were near the airstrip. There were two groups. One was a pair of giraffes, one was female and one was male. They were far in the back so we didn’t really get to see them much. There was, however, a family of three about five meters away from us. The baby was almost seven feet tall and the female eight and a half. The male was probably nine or ten. They were eating from a bush practically made for giraffes. I don’t know the real name of the plant, but I called it a prickly. It had almost two inch thorns and was very tall at its highest. The prickles are for protection when it’s young, and as it grows taller the prickles start getting smaller, starting with the top ones. So when the bush is tall enough for the giraffe to eat comfortably, it is ready to eat.

Here are some other basic facts under some basic categories:

Eating/Drinking: A full grown male giraffe can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day, mostly leaves (they’re herbivores). Giraffes can go long times without water and have special blood cells in their neck so they can lower their head to drink at a stream without fainting.

Sleeping: Giraffes rarely sleep more than 10-30 minutes a day. They also sleep standing, as well as giving birth that way!

Baby Giraffes: A baby giraffe is around six feet tall when born. It can live to 20-25 years.

Telling apart Male and female: Males’ have bigger horns and bald spots on their head from when they’re fighting. 60% of the males have darker fur than females.

Back at the Kalahari desert, we saw young male giraffes will fighting each other. They swing their heads at each other and use their horns.

7 Odd Facts

1. A giraffe has a 27 inch tongue

2. One good kick from a giraffe could kill a lion

3. Giraffes can start walking one hour after birth

4. Giraffes walk using both left feet at a time, then both right, this is so they can balance their weight.

5. Only half of the babies reach adulthood, the rest are eaten

6. Giraffes can drink up to ten gallons of water a day

7. Including the tuft at the end, a giraffe tail can be up to 8 feet long

and Seven Even Odder Facts

  1. A giraffe’s heart is 24 pounds and 2 feet wide.
  2. A full grown giraffe’s neck can weigh up to 500 pounds
  3. Giraffes clean their ears with their long tongue (gross!)
  4. A giraffe’s heart can pump 160 gallons of blood
  5. Giraffe tongues are blackish bluish to avoid sunburns
  6. They can gallop 31-37 mph
  7. 16-20 hours of the day is spent eating


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