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30 Giraffe Facts and Photos: Fun Animal Facts for Kids

Updated on June 17, 2019
GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson is a freelance writer for private and commercial publishing platforms.

From how tall are giraffes to how much do they weigh, to how long do they live, these fun animal facts and photos will surprise adults as much as they educate kids.

  • Giraffe basics; Where do they live, how tall are they, how much do they weigh, how long do they live, and more.
  • Fun facts; Can giraffes sit down, what do giraffes eat, how do they drink, how fast can they run, what sounds do they make, and more
  • Giraffe photos and videos

It all starts on the savanna grasslands of Africa.

Tall and Majestic Giraffes on the Savanna of Africa
Tall and Majestic Giraffes on the Savanna of Africa | Source

Giraffes, (Giraffa Camelopardalis), Live in Africa

They live in Africa's savanna grasslands with lions, leopards, and elephants. But there is no need to worry. Even lions and leopards generally leave them alone.

  • How tall are giraffes?

Giraffes can be up to 18 feet tall, (5.5 meters), but their average height is around 16 feet, (about 5 meters). They are the tallest land animal on Earth. Taller than lions or tigers, and even elephants.

  • How much do they weigh?

They can weigh as much as 3000 pounds. That's almost as much as a Chevrolet Corvette. But the average weight is between 1750 and 2800 pounds.

Males are usually taller and heavier, (averaging up to 18 feet (5.5 m) tall and up to 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kg)). than females, which average about 14 feet (4.3 m) tall and up to 1,500 lbs. (680 kg).

  • How long do giraffes live?

In captivity, like zoos or managed preserves, they can live to be 36 years old, but life is more dangerous In the savannas, and without the health management of a zoo, a wild giraffe usually doesn't live to be older than 26 years.

This is how tall some giraffes are
This is how tall some giraffes are | Source

Baby Giraffe Facts

Mother giraffes give birth standing up. That means a baby's first worldly experience is a four to six foot drop to the ground. Almost always landing on its head.

Surprisingly, this doesn't hurt the baby, and the jolt causes it to take its first breath and start breathing on its own. If that doesn't work, mom will give it a kick or two to get her baby to start breathing.

Newborns can usually stand up within 30 minutes, and are walking by 60 minutes after birth.

They are born after a 14 to 15 month pregnancy, and typical birth weight is between 100 and 150 pounds.

They are also almost six feet tall when they are born.

Baby giraffe drinking from milk bottle
Baby giraffe drinking from milk bottle | Source

Breastfeeding from mom in the Wild, (and sometimes from milk bottles in zoos), baby giraffes drink mother's milk for their first four to six months, then they switch to eating leaves.

They will reach their mature weight in about three years.

Mother and baby giraffe on savanna
Mother and baby giraffe on savanna | Source

Can Giraffes Sit Down, and What Do They Eat?

Yes, they can sit down, and lay down, but they almost never do when they are in the Wild -- their natural habitat -- because it makes then vulnerable to attack by predators.

Even though zoo-raised giraffes still have the instinct to always stand up, because of their safe environment, they are often seen laying down, or lounging much more often than ones in the Wild do.

They sometimes sit for a quick nap, (5 minutes or less), but for safety they usually sleep on their feet.

Grown giraffes get most of their sleep with those quick 5 minute standing naps. Even when they do sleep at night, it is usually only for 30 minutes or less. They only need. 30 minutes to a couple hours of sleep a day.

  • What do Giraffes Eat?

They eat leaves. Their favorite food is the leaves of the acacia tree, and that is almost their complete diet.

Captive giraffes in zoos and preserves will also eat hay, carrots, and other high-fiber low-starch foods, (like biscuits), but acacia tree leaves are their favorite food, and many zoos place acacia leaf bundles in artificial trees for them to feed from.

Mature, (grown), giraffes can eat up to 75 pounds of leaves each day. Even using their 18 inch tongue, they can only get a few leaves with each mouthful, so that is why they spend so much time eating. Up to 90% of their daytime hours.

  • They are the world's largest "ruminants." That means they chew "cuds" of food, (leaves or hay), just like cows do.

Giraffe eating Acacia tree leaves
Giraffe eating Acacia tree leaves | Source

How Fast Can Giraffes Run?

They may look awkward with those long gangly legs and their long six-foot neck, but they can explode with speed bursts up to 35 miles per hour, (MPH), for a short time, and can gallop along at 10 MPH for hours.

That means they can outrun most of their predators.

That speed burst, and their strong long legs are how they escape most attacks.

Smaller attackers, (like a lion or hyena), find it hard to try to match that speed burst -- and avoid a deadly kick from their hooves -- while trying to make an eight-foot leap to latch onto the giraffe's body.

How Long is a Giraffe's Neck?

The length of a giraffe's neck averages about six feet long, (1.8 meters), from their body to the base of their head, and can weigh as much as 600 pounds.

Another unusual fact is that they have the same number of neck vertebrae as human necks - seven.

The difference is that while human vertebrae are less than one inch long, giraffe neck vertebrae can be over ten inches long.

The arteries in their neck, the ones that take blood to their brain, have a type of muscle that acts like a "check valve" that keeps the blood from rushing to or from their heads when that long six-foot neck raises or lowers it.

How Do They Drink Water?

Very carefully.

Even with that long neck, a giraffe cannot reach down to the ground without stooping or bending its legs.

To do this they have to splay their front legs out to each side, allowing their knees to bend inward. This will lower their body enough for their head to reach the ground or water. But it is a very vulnerable position for them.

It lowers their body, making it easier for an attacker, (like a lion), to leap on them, and they also can't take off running without first standing back up. Robbing them of the safety of that 35 mph speed burst that would take them out of danger.

Fortunately, giraffes drink very little water. They don't need to. They get the majority of the water they need from the moisture in the leaves they eat.

Adult giraffe drinking
Adult giraffe drinking | Source

What Sounds Do Giraffes Make?

There are a couple theories on that. In the Wild, they are mostly heard only making occasional grunts, or powerful "whooshes" of air.

Researchers have a theory, (they have recordings to support their theory), that those whooshers that we humans hear are actually understandable, (at least by other giraffes), communications in the infra-sound range, which is too low for humans to hear.

Other researchers and zoo keepers have heard and recorded them making more sounds. Grunts, moos, bleats, and mews.

They have noted that it is mostly the younger ones that make these sounds.

It seems that as giraffes mature, their communication sounds become more and more in the infra-sound style of strong whooshes of air.

Because of their low frequency, these infra-sounds can be heard for long distances, even from inside a building.

You can see and hear more about the sounds giraffes make at; What Sounds Do Giraffes Make (That Humans Can Hear)

How Long is a Giraffe's Tongue?

A giraffe's tongue can be up to 18 inches long. And it is usually a bluish-black.

It is called a prehensile tongue because it can be used for grabbing and pulling leaves from tall tree tops.

A Giraffe using his tongue to grab leaves from an acacia tree
A Giraffe using his tongue to grab leaves from an acacia tree | Source

Do Giraffes Have Teeth?

Yes, giraffes do have teeth, 32 of them. The same number that humans have, but they are placed differently in their mouth.

They have front teeth on their bottom jaw, but not on the top jaw. There they have a hard thickness of tissue called a "dental pad" in the place of teeth.

This helps them grind their food against it and their bottom teeth as they chew.

There are "back" teeth on both jaws, but they are mostly molar-type teeth for grinding and crushing,

Giraffes have 32 teeth too!
Giraffes have 32 teeth too! | Source

Do Giraffes Have Horns?

No, they are not really horns like other animals have. Those are made of dermal bone or keratinized cells.

A giraffe's "horns" are known as "occicones", which are formed from cartilage and covered with skin.

A female's occicones are thinner and tufted with longer hair on top. A male's are larger, have knobs on the ends, and become bald on top as they get older.

Do Giraffes Have Two Hearts?

No, they only have one heart, but it is big and super-charged.

And it's walls are very thick, making it's heart muscles much stronger and able to pump high volumes of blood at higher pressure.

Their hearts can weigh as much as 26 pounds, and their blood pressure is at least twice as high as most other animals. This is how they can get blood all the way up that long neck.

Can You Ride a Giraffe?

No, but you can try. They aren't domesticated, or "broken" -- like horses or mules -- to accept riders. Also, their gait; the way they run, would make it a very bumpy and bouncy ride.

It is claimed that there was a circus rider, back in the 1950s that rode giraffes, but there is no video proof.

However, one young man, a descendant of that circus rider explains his attempts to ride a six and one-half foot baby giraffe:

Teenager aims to revive 'lost art' of giraffe riding

And in the short video below, you can see another unsuccessful try.

A Giraffe Ride FAIL

Can Giraffes Swim?

The honest answer is no. Theoretically they might be able to swim, but in real life, so far, the answer is no.

Besides their huge and heavy body that would weigh them down, and the long slender legs that wouldn't be able to push much water in a swimming stroke, their gait, (the way they move both legs on each side at the same time), would make the effort very awkward.

A Group of Giraffes is Called a Tower

Giraffes are social-group animals. That means that as long as everyone gets along, they hang-out together. But they will also leave one group to join another, for no obvious reason.

As a social group, they stay together for both protection, (there is safety in numbers out in the Wild), and to help each other with their young.

Giraffe moms will sometimes even assume "day care" duty; watching young calves of the group while their moms do other things.

A Tower of Running Giraffes

A Tower Just Hanging Out

Are Giraffes an Endangered Species?

Not yet. But in 2016 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), changed the giraffe's species rating to "vulnerable," and placed it on their IUCN Red List as a vulnerable species.

It is estimated there are slightly less than 100,000 giraffes left in Africa. That is down, (a 40% decrease), from about 160,000 in 1985.

Conservationists say that poaching and human encroachment of their natural habitat are the main reasons for the decline in their population.

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Giraffe Vulnerable Species Scale
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Giraffe Vulnerable Species Scale | Source

© 2018 ga anderson

Giraffe Facts For Kids Comments

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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 months ago from sunny Florida

      Simply am in all of these amazing creatures. I have several photographs of Mama's with their babies. I was fortunate enough to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World. And the giraffes would come up very close to our window and it was such a treat. Thank you for sharing this with us. Angels are on the way to you this afternoon.ps

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