You already know they’re tall—the world’s tallest mammals—but here are more interesting random giraffe facts about these lanky herbivores.
Random Giraffe Facts
1. Giraffes can run at rates of up to 35 mph over short distances.
2. Giraffes only need to drink water a couple of times a week. They acquire most of their water from their plant-based diet, which is beneficial given their height, making drinking difficult (and if a lion happens upon a drinking giraffe, even dangerous).
3. Female giraffes frequently return to their birthplaces to give birth. Their calves are given a hard welcome into the world when they arrive, plummeting over five feet to the ground.
4. Fortunately, within one hour after birth, baby giraffes can stand and even run.
5. Giraffe tongues can grow to be up to 20 inches long and darkly colored, which is supposed to shield them from the sun.
6. Giraffes usually sleep standing up, and if they do fall asleep on the ground, it’s only for a brief six-minute slumber.
7. Giraffes have hair-covered horns known as ossicones, which are solely used by males (for fighting each other).
8. Giraffes need over 75 pounds of food each day, and because they primarily consume leaves, they spend most of their time eating.
9. The scientific name for the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, comes from the ancient Greek assumption that it resembled a camel sporting a leopard’s cloak.
10. Despite their long necks, giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans: seven. Each vertebra is enormous, measuring up to ten inches in length.
11. Giraffes have a unique circulatory system that begins with a big heart due to their peculiar morphology. It measures two feet in length and can weigh up to 25 pounds.
12. In addition, when the giraffe lowers its head to drink, the jugular veins feature a series of one-way valves that prevent excessive blood flow to the brain.
13. Male giraffes participate in “necking,” a ritualized demonstration of dominance in which they head-butt each other’s bodies.
14. Giraffes walk by moving both legs on the same side of their body together, unlike horses and most other quadrupeds. As a result, the left front and left hind legs step first, followed by the right front and right hind legs.
15. Although giraffes are more inclined to flee than fight an attack, they are not wholly vulnerable. An unlucky lion might be killed or severely injured by a fast kick from its long legs.
16. Male giraffes will taste a female’s pee to see if she is fertile. Which is something you can’t get rid of now.
The first World Giraffe Day will be held on June 21, 2014.
18. Julius Caesar transported the first giraffe to Europe from Alexandria in 46 B.C., as part of his triumphal return to Rome after years of civil conflict.
Lorenzo de’ Medici was given a giraffe by the Egyptian sultan 1500 years later. Since antiquity, giraffes had not been seen in Italy. Their appearance in Florence generated quite a stir as they wandered the streets and accepted delicacies offered from second-story windows.
20. Because Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is renowned as the “Baby Giraffe,” a baby giraffe born at the San Francisco Zoo was appropriately called Brandon Belt. It was predictably charming when the two met.
It’s time to learn all about one of nature’s gentle giants! Take a look at these fascinating random giraffe facts about the giraffe to spread awareness.