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Giraffes- All You Never Wanted to Know

Updated on October 9, 2016

So Much to Know About Giraffes

Giraffes are one of the world's most unique animals. I think when God made the animals, He had lots of creative ideas and threw all the remaining ones into the giraffe. In fact, famous artist Pablo Picaso was quoted with saying this about the animals: God is only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and cat. He has no real style; He just goes on trying other things.

I spent six weeks in East Africa in 2009 and learned so much about these beautiful creatures! I was thoroughly impressed and am still in awe of them!

There is one question about them I continually get asked. People seem to be curious about the same thing in regards to giraffes. Read to the end and you might find out the answer to the question about giraffes that plagues most people!

Please Note:

All of the photos and the video used on this hub were taken by me.

Let's Skip the Boring Stuff

I'm going to skip the boring stuff. We all know that giraffes are very tall and have purple tongues. They are mammals and live in Africa. Leaves are their favorite foods, and the graze the treetops for all their meals. Kids learn this stuff in elementary school.

All of my random factoids about giraffes are things I learned while in Nairobi, Kenya, at the giraffe park. All of these things held me in awe of these beautiful (and awkward) animals. All of the photos I am using are my own, and I took them while visiting the giraffes.

I hope you learn something! I sure did!

Giraffe Books for Kids

I absolutely love children's books, both fiction and nonfiction. Here are some of my favorite books for kids and adults all about these amazing animals!

Well as giraffes say, you don't get no leaves unless you stick your neck out.

-Sid Waddell

Giraffes Are Great Kissers

Or, Giraffes Can Do Amazing Things With Their Tongues

Yes, giraffes can do amazing things with their tongues, including kissing (seen here with my sister.) But, it's not what you would guess.

Did you know that their saliva is antiseptic?

Yep! It kills germs! Just like neosporin or that bottle of stuff you carry around with you everywhere.

Don't ask me how they figured this out, but it's ture. That big, long, purple tongue is covered in saliva that can kill germs of all kinds. Cool, huh? Speaking of length, a giraffe's tongue is 18 inches long! (P.S. Their tongues are not purple; they are black. But they look purple. I'm not sure what the difference is.)

How About You? - Is giraffe spit something you'd use to clean wounds?

What is your favorite method of cleaning wounds or disinfecting?

See results

Walk Like a Man

Most mammals walk with a certain pattern. Front right foot with back left foot, then alternate. Even people do the same thing with the swing of our arms. (Although, when my dog runs, he does both front feet, then both back feet. Maybe it's better for speed.)

Giraffes, on the other hand, do neither. They walk with both right legs, then both left legs! If they don't, they tip over! Who woulda' guessed?

It's kinda funny when you see it, especially since it's not something you ever see. No other mammal does it!

I wonder what they do to run, though... Maybe they don't run, for fear of being clotheslined.

See How They Walk!

Here is a short video I took of the giraffes walking. Just an example of what I'm trying to describe!

Think About It

When the guides at the giraffe park pointed this out, I had to sort of walk out the "regular" way to walk so I could understand the difference. Did you have to do this?

When I read this entry about how giraffes walk differently, I...

See results

Baby, I'm Amazed

This one was so stinkin' cool!

When a female giraffe (called a cow) is pregnant, the gestation is 15 months. (First of all, can you imagine carrying something that huge for 15 months?!?!) But, if the mother giraffe knows it is dangerous, there isn't enough food or water, or this is her last baby and she wants to enjoy it as long as possible, she will hold it in for up to 3 more months! (Just kidding about the clingy part, but the danger is a good enough reason.)

Mother giraffes, like most mothers of any species, can sense danger in regards to their children. But these moms take it to the extreme. If it's time to have the baby, but it's not safe, she'll wait it out a few more months! Now that is love!

How Long Would You?

My cousin just had her sixth baby. (Yes, she is insane.) Her first five, she barely carried to 36 weeks, and one or two was earlier, I believe. But lucky number six took her to 40+ weeks! She must have some giraffe instinct!

How much longer would or did you carry your children if there was danger?

See results

Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh

Baby giraffes hit the ground running, in the most literal sense.

First, they actually do hit the ground. They fall about 6 feet as they come out of their mother.

Within an hour, they have figured out how to use their long legs and can walk and start to nurse.

The babies, or calves, are all born with horns, which never go away. These little babies are about 150 pounds and are 6 feet tall.

In the Blink of an Eye

Giraffes are born without eyelids. From the time they hit the ground (literally) to the time they die, they never close their eyes. Mostly, because they can't. But maybe because they don't want to miss anything. This is a leading cause of death in giraffes in the wild, though. As the trees get cut down, the remaining ones are shorter and shorter. This is causing giraffes to go blind and die early due, essentially, to sunburn on their eyes. Giraffes also have no tear ducts.

In captivity, though, giraffes live longer. When giraffes are found (oftentimes injured or orphaned), they are rehabilitated and released into protected national parks. The park keepers and whatnot do a great job of making sure there are trees tall enough to protect the giraffes and their eyes. Therefore, giraffes in captivity live longer than those in the wild.

[Note: "Captivity" is a loose interpretation. The national parks where giraffes go are protected and safe, but there are no cages or anything like we normally think of.]

Heavy Drinkers

Despite having very long necks, giraffes cannot touch the ground with the heads. They have to sort of spread their legs apart and go down on their knees in order to lay down or drink water. They only drink for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. If they go longer than that, they will pass out from having their head below their heart for so long. But inside their neck is a series of one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards, helping them to not black out. Still, it's a long way down and a lot of blood to pump.

Fortunately, the favorite food of giraffes, the acacia leaf, is full of water, which provides them with most of the liquids in their diet. I'm a thirsty person, and I could not imagine not being able to drink lots and lots of water whenever I feel like it.

While we're on the subject of water, it is interesting to point out that there is no recorded observation of giraffes bathing. Ever. Do you think they are smelly?

The Big One

What you always wanted to know...

(When I tell people about giraffes, they always ask the same question: Do they make noise? Now you have the answer!)

Yes, giraffes make noise! It is rare, but they can moo, hiss, roar and whistle. They use these sounds to communicate with one another, like most other animals.

Can you imagine having something that tall roar at you?

What You Want to Know

Yes! Giraffes make noise! They can moo, hiss, roar, and whistle! Now you know!

Big-Hearted Love

Giraffes are very big. Because of that, they have very large hearts as well.

A giraffe's heart can weigh up to 25 pounds, and take about 1/3 of their body size. The muscular walls are several inches thick, and they have a lot of blood to pump! The blood pressure of giraffes is around 280/180. (For humans, it's around 130/80.) This big heart pumps about 16 gallons of blood per minute. If giraffes are chased for too long, they will suffer heart attacks and die. For this reason, scientists are very careful if they have to capture giraffes to study.

Nairobi Giraffe Centre

Where I met giraffes

While I was in Kenya, I did see some giraffes out wandering around. We drove cross-country a few times and got to see baboons, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and even camels wandering around in the wild. (Well, I'm sure a lot of the land was protected, but you get my point.) But our last few days in Nairobi, we wanted to see some more animals and couldn't afford a proper safari. Our wonderful Kenyan guide and friend, Charles, took us to the elephant orphanage and the giraffe park, along with another park for what they call a Walking Safari. (Essentially, it was a zoo with only native animals.)

The Nairobi Giraffe Centre is a wonderful place to see giraffes. They walk right up to you on the balcony of the building, and you can kiss or hug or pet them. The guides do a great job of teaching you all about the magnificent animals. They also do a lot for the community and students in the area.

In another part of the park, they have a nature walk through beautiful forest where some of the giraffes roam free, and there are many birds and monkeys as well. If you are going to Nairobi, this is a place you don't want to miss!

Learn Anything?

What was the most interesting new fact you learned about giraffes?

See results

Giraffe Toys!

Every kid (and grown-up kid) needs some fun giraffes to play with!

Did you learn anything? Were you shocked by anything? Are you ready to have a giraffe for a pet? Let us know!

Thanks for Stopping By! - Let me know what you think!

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    • profile image

      walaa wagdy 2 years ago

      you really added to me thanks a lot

    • profile image

      sg 2 years ago

      baby g r qts

    • profile image

      Penny4Thoughts 3 years ago

      I live in Nairobi and on when I'm feeling depressed for some reason, love to visit the animal orphanage and the Giraffe Center. Its lovely being so up close with these animals. Kind of soothing, especially when you get to feed them. Giraffes are such gentle creatures it suddenly makes you feel like your problems may aren't so bad. If you come back to East Africa be sure to visit Haller Park in Mombasa. Cheap to tour, immense and absolutely beautiful. They also have an area for feeding giraffes much like Giraffe Center in Nairobi.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was told during a game drive that if a giraffe's tongue gets infected and dies off that he can grow another one. Is this true?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens! I grew up in South Africa so giraffes are really special to me.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 5 years ago

      Great lens ! Informative.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love giraffes, and its nice to stop by here again. I posted this on FaceBook this time. :)

    • Steve Dizmon profile image

      Steve Dizmon 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      My 2 year old grandson is fascinated by Giraffes. When he is visiting I have to find YouTube videos for him to watch. Great Lens.

    • food monkey profile image

      food monkey 5 years ago

      fun lens :)

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Yes I did. You did a great job with this article. I really enjoyed my visit.

    • pinkrenegade lm profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 5 years ago

      Great fun lens, loved your writing style, loved the new facts I learned. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      How exciting that you got to spend so much time East Africa and what wonderful things you learned.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Happy New Year! Congratulations on your lens being chosen as a top 100 Community Favorite for 2011!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We watched them for several days in our safari. They are so tall.

    • Auntiekatkat profile image

      Auntiekatkat 5 years ago

      Congrats on being nominated for Community Favorite Lenses of 2011. A wonderful lens. Fortunately we both share one thing it was easier to vote than for most as mine was my "why-I-am a- vegetarian was nominated as well. A proud moment for all of us. Good luck in the voting.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Congrats on making the top 100 community favorites.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      What a wonderfully informative lens ... loved your photos, too! Congratulations on being one of the final 100 favorite Squidoo lenses of 2011!

    • MCB2011 profile image

      MCB2011 5 years ago

      Really nice lens, thank you.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love Giraffes and think they are fascinating so I really enjoyed this page and learned a lot, too. Congrats on being in the Top 100 Community Favorites.

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 5 years ago

      I love the fact that these are your own wonderful Giraffe images. You've done a fantastic job. Congrats on making the Community Favorite Lenses list too :)

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Really enjoyed this lens. Great job.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      Lots of good information. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      moonlitta 5 years ago

      Now that's educational:)

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      Oh, yes. Just as soon as giraffes are offered in miniature... like maybe three inches tall... I simply must go down an' get one to put in my purse. LOL

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Not my first visit to your great about giraffes page, I love it very much :) blessed again!

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      Love the Giraffe! i would wish to have their eyelashes as they are amazing.

    • ananimoss2 profile image

      ananimoss2 5 years ago

      My daughter's favorite animal is giraffe, and she looked at this lens with me. She and I give you thumbs up!

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 5 years ago

      Enjoyed this lens, interesting and educational.

    • profile image

      ThomasJ4 LM 5 years ago

      Great lens with lots of info about giraffes, good work

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 5 years ago

      Nicely done. Learned something new too. Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I am really surprised about the eyes of the giraffes ... reading that was a real 'wow' moment.

    • profile image

      charity7 6 years ago

      Loved this lens! I had no idea that Giraffes walked that way. Very informative lens.

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 6 years ago

      Amazing Lens, so educational and interactive, I really had lots of fun visiting here!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Fascinating lens - lots of interesting information.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      What great information. This lens has been blessed and added to my animal alphabet lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I now have a new appreciation for the giraffe. I love your personal story about them! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      interesting

    • PropheticBlogge1 profile image

      PropheticBlogge1 6 years ago

      What a really interestin lens, I'm a big animal lover and so found this lens really appealing I'll put a review about it on my blog in the hope that other people are attracted to your informative lens. I now want a giraffe as a pet, but I reckon it would be hard to take for a walk!!

    • profile image

      chris_triby 6 years ago

      Great informative lens! I liked all the interactive elements you had too as they helped me to remember the information. Giraffes were always my favorite animal to see at the zoo, though I have only ever gotten to touch one once.

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @bechand: What a story! Certainly something to remember!

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 6 years ago

      funny story -mother on pain meds in hospital - said my sister should not bother coming to visit her unless she brings 2 giraffes. - LOL - we found an old noah's ark set and had her bring the giraffes... When she got there my mother (still medicated) said that was stupid and had no memory of the comment - we still find it funny and get her giraffe stuff every now and then ...

    • profile image

      thebabyshop 6 years ago

      Wow, I learned a lot about giraffes today! Despite their tongues being an antiseptic, I think I'll pass on a giraffe kiss! That's amazing that they can hold their young for so long, going above and beyond when danger is present!

    • profile image

      sneakyboots 6 years ago

      Hey girl, that was really, really cool and I really enjoy reading the writing style; grrreatttttttttttt (ooh sorry, that was Tony The Tiger...and we're in a drought here; no worries, I won't eat your baby, I promise!) job!

    • profile image

      anniebananie 6 years ago

      This is awesome. I love giraffes. Just lovely.

    • profile image

      naturesfun 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the great giraffe info. Super lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Wonderful lens! Such fascinating creatures. Now I love giraffes even more than before. I really must go to Africa to see them live and in person. Thank you for teaching me so much about these incredibly special animals.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great lens. Fascinated by the mothers waiting to give birth if there was danger about.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      nice topic

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      excellent lens! I learnt some new stuff today!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      This is great! Lots of things I didn't know about giraffes that I know now. When I occasionally go to zoos, they're one of my favorite animals to watch. I love their long lashes.

    • Lee Hogg Williams profile image

      Lee Williams 6 years ago from North Carolina

      had to share this with a young friend who ADORES giraffes!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      Really enjoyed this lens - I never knew giraffes were such interesting animals aside from the length of their necks. Thanks for the seminar.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Giraffes are such beautiful animals!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I like the way you narrate and loved your presentation of some unknown facts about giraffes. Five stars and a double thumbs up. :)

    • profile image

      Runnn 6 years ago

      Giraffe definitely not ideal as a pet. They are too tall.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      Loved this lens and the pictures are amazing. What a great trip that must have been!

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @jackieb99: I'm glad to see other people love them! Thanks for stopping by!

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      I love giraffes! When I went to Africa, I couldn't get enough of watching them.

    • sponias lm profile image

      sponias lm 6 years ago

      Giraffes are intriguing animals. Thank you for your lessons!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Wow I didn't know half the informations you gave about giraffes. This is such a nice and fun page about giraffes

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Great and interesting page about giraffes!

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @Jerrad28: Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Giraffes sure are unique, aren't they?

    • profile image

      Jerrad28 6 years ago

      This is an awesome lens, giraffes are my girlfriends favorite animal to visit at the zoo and my second favorite (tigers are first). Thanks for the interesting info :)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      I love giraffes! Great lens! Blessing it!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Absolutely fascinating! I thought I knew something about giraffes but you took me by surprise with almost everything. I did know about the black tongue and that they don't drink much but didn't know they may pass out! Excellent!

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 6 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I had no idea their tails were so long! I love giraffes. I still shocks me that anyone would want to hunt something so beautiful.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 6 years ago

      Born without eyelids....who knew? Not me :) What an interesting and fun lens. I'm heading to Africa this fall and I'm hoping to see some giraffes on Safari....I'm so excited!

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @MrDarcy LM: Thanks! I loved the giraffes when I was in Kenya, and I learned so many neat things about them! They certainly are unique animals! Thanks for stopping by.

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @GilWarzecha: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • GilWarzecha profile image

      GilWarzecha 6 years ago

      This is a great lense! Thanks for making it!

    • MrDarcy LM profile image

      MrDarcy LM 6 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens!

    • profile image

      janabrech 6 years ago

      Oh, well written! I so enjoyed knowing that the pictures were your own! And learning all those interesting facts. I think I would love to be kissed by a giraffe!

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from Canada

      Really interesting fact about Giraffe tongues killing germs. I enjoyed all or your pictures.

    • smithlights profile image
      Author

      smithlights 6 years ago

      @ChrisDay LM: Haha! I can only imagine. They do just seem to wander around at times!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      I love giraffes. They're so aloof. My wistful ambition is to perform chiropractic manipulation on a giraffe before I die. Can you imagine erecting the scaffolding, climbing up and the giraffe just lazily moving away?