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What Sounds does a Giraffe Make

Updated on September 2, 2014

Find out what sounds giraffes make, and other giraffe facts and trivia sure to expand your universe. Bleats, Mews, coughs, and hisses.

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Giraffe sounds - Mysteries of the Universe

"What sound does a giraffe make?"

Unable to sleep, you tossed and turned all night. It was no use. You were sure you would not have a moments peace until you found the answer. Somebody had to know. All those scientists working on the project, and still, no one could answer that one seemingly simple question.

Or is it sounds? Do giraffes make different sounds? Do they have a vocabulary? How do they communicate? There must be answer. Somebody has to know. Of course, Jeeves! I'll ask Jeeves.

A Lion and a Tiger walk into a bar...

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*See composite component image citation | Source

They may not really talk, but giraffes do make sounds

It's not really one of the mysteries of the Universe. Giraffes do use sounds to communicate. All different kinds of sounds. From raucous coughs, to kitten-type mews, (but big-kitten size), to sub-sonics that humans can't hear, giraffes use a variety of different sounds in different situations, and for different purposes.

Yes, giraffes do have vocal cords, and the types of documented sounds attributed to them include: grunts, moaning, snoring, bellows, snorts, coughs, and bleats and mews, hissing, whistle-like cries, and flute-like sounds.

Sub-sonic, or Infra-sound

Although the giraffe sounds described can occasionally be heard - maturing giraffes seldom make them. Research has discovered that the most common sounds of giraffes for communications are low-frequency infra-sounds undetectable by the human ear.

Sounding like great modulated whooshes of air, these infra-sounds can be heard at great distances. Even through buildings and forests.

Audible Giraffe Sounds

Sound
Used by:
Meaning
Snorts and Grunts
Male/Female
Danger/Alarm
Snores and Hisses
Male
Fighting/Confrontations (sometimes used as danger alarm signal)
Moans and Grunts
Male
Fighting/Confrontations
Loud coughs
Male
Sexual courting
Bellows and Whistles
Female
Female communication with young
Hissing
Female
Scolding/correcting young
Bleats and Mews
Young male and female
Used by young giraffes indicating alarm, fear, or wants
Note: The inaudible giraffe sounds mentioned above, (giant air whooshes), although observed to be communications - have yet to be correlated with specific meanings.

Giraffe sounds: Snorts and Grunts

Sounding the danger alarm...

Giraffes will communicate an alarm of danger by stamping their feet, and emitting loud snorts or grunts. Occasionally they will also use snoring and hissing sounds, but these are usually heard during giraffe fights. Yes, male giraffes do fight, and yes, it is usually over a female. (go figure)

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*See composite component image citation | Source

Giraffe sounds: Bellows and Whistles, Bleats and Mews

Looking for and calling the kids...

Like mothers and their children everywhere, mama giraffes have a special set of sounds they use just with their offspring. They use loud bellows when searching for the kid(s), (which can be heard a mile away), and whistling or flute-like sounds for other communications - like calling them to the dinner nipple. And if the kid needs a scolding? That's another time giraffe hissing is heard.

Kid giraffes generally only mew or bleat until they are almost a year old.

*See composite component image citation
*See composite component image citation | Source

Giraffe Sounds: Snorts, Grunts, Hisses

Those are fighting words...

It seems male giraffes are the fighters of the family. Although there are territorial fights and disputes, the most common cause for male-to-male fights and confrontations are over... yep, you guessed it. Females. Their fighting "words," (sounds), are loud snorts, moans, and hissing, with the occasional grunt thrown in. (using a danger sound to intimidate the other guy)

ps. the head movements shown in this scene are described as "swimming" their heads at each other.

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*See composite component image citation | Source

Giraffes aren't always so calm and docile!

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*See composite component image citation | Source

Giraffe sounds: Raucous Coughs

But dear, I love you...


Love is in the air, and so are raucous coughs emanating from a 6-foot throat. Giraffes use loud coughs to court the females they want to mate with. The louder, and more raucous the cough, the more ardent the desire.

And of course, the bigger the male, the bigger the throat, and the more deep and impressive the resonating coughs.

It might not sound like "whispering sweet nothings" to us, but to female giraffes those coughs are a real turn-on.

Giraffe's Natural Habitat

A
Sahara Desert:
Sahara Desert

get directions

B
African Savannah:
Savannah, Nairobi, Kenya

get directions

C
Southern Africa:
Southern Africa

get directions

Did you know the sounds giraffes made before reading this?

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Giraffe Facts and Trivia

  • the scientific name for giraffes is Giraffa camelopardalis, of the family Giraffidae
  • giraffe's necks are approx. 6 feet long and can weigh up to 600 pounds - and - they have the same number of neck vertebra as humans - seven
  • males can grow up to 18 feet tall and weigh 3000 pounds
  • newborns are approx. 6 feet tall when born
  • a giraffe's tongue can be 18 to 20 inches long
  • giraffes only live 15 or 25 years
  • giraffes can run almost 35 mph
  • a giraffe's heart can be up to two feet long and weigh 25 pounds
  • giraffes have valves in their vascular system that keeps them from getting dizzy or blacking out when the raise or lower their heads - which could be a distance differential of 20 feet
  • giraffe's feet are cloven, but shaped like a dinner plate and up to 12 inches across
  • a giraffe's tongue is usually black, or a blackish blue.

Sources: Treknature.com, SanDiegoZoo.org

It has a happy ending...

One more Giraffe Trivia Fact...

Mother giraffes give birth standing up - which means a newborn's introduction to the world is a 6-foot drop to the ground!

But they are usually up and walking in minutes.

(ps. mom carries the baby for 14 months - whew!)

Young giraffe bleats at 1:50 in video

Source

About the Author

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*Composite image component source citations: Creative Commons images from:commons.wikimedia.org, flickr.com/creativecommons, search.creativecommons.org, http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/06/find-creative-commons-images-in-google.html. *photo and image source credits: divider and separation images - http://gaanderson.hubpages.com

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Comments

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    • shara63 profile image

      Farhat 

      6 years ago from Delhi

      This hub is a big relief to all Moms & Dads..that now they will not face the embarrassing situation when their children ask about Girraffe, its behaviour and the sound it makes...and they go for some pretension to get rid of the situation cleverly!

    • GA Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      GA Anderson 

      6 years ago from USA

      @Phoenix - Thanks for reading "What Sounds does a Giraffe Make?," and I'm glad it answered your question.

      Thanks for the nice comment and vote too.

      GA

    • phoenixarizona profile image

      phoenixarizona 

      6 years ago from Australia

      I cannot thank you enough for answering my question! My daughter asked me when she was three what sound a giraffe made and I could not find out! She's now nearly eleven!

      If this does not win the contest then I'd say HP had a very sad panel of judges!

      WOW this was an awesome hub and I VOTED IT AS SUCH (Contest or no contest).

      You Rock!

      Phoenix! :)

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