Giraffes hail all the way from the open savannahs of Africa, and they’re also the tallest land animals on Earth. But other than that, not much is known about them. If these gentle mammals intrigue you, here’s five giraffe facts that might interest you!
1. Giraffes Only Drink Water Once Every Few Days
As giraffes spend most of their time eating, they consume up to 45kg of leaves a day. This is where most of their water source comes from, so they don’t have to drink water very often. Additionally, a giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. This means they have to awkwardly spread their legs to drink.
2. Giraffes Get By With Little Sleep
On average, giraffes only require about 30 minutes of sleep per night! They can even get by with just 5 minutes of sleep in a 24-hour period. Giraffes sleep standing up and they rarely lie on the ground as it’s such a vulnerable position for them. This is because their height makes it difficult for them to stand up quickly if there’s any immediate danger.
3. A Giraffe’s Gestation Period is 457 Days
That’s a whopping 15 months! Although the gestation period is long, typically only a single calf is born. Unfortunately, these vulnerable calves are the target of lions, leopards, and hyenas. Many of them are killed in their first few months and as many as 50% of them do not survive past their first year. 🙁
4. Female Giraffes Give Birth Standing Up
Newborn giraffe calves are in for a rough welcome! As females give birth standing up, this means the calf will experience an approximately 1.5-meter fall. Talk about a rough landing. Despite that, these remarkable calves are seen up and walking just 30 minutes after their birth! Amazing, aren’t they?
5. Giraffes Have Hair-Covered Horns Called Ossicones
Both male and female giraffes have two protruding horns covered in hair and skin called ossicones. In newborn giraffes, these horns are made of cartilage and not attached to the skull. As they grow older, this cartilage turns into bone and fuses with the skull in a process called ossification, hence the name ossicones. Male giraffes sometimes use their horns to fight with other males, this can often escalate into pushing and shoving each other with their muscular necks.