My favorite animal to watch while we were on our SkySafari was the giraffe. Seemingly ungainly and often the butt of bad jokes, I found them to be majestic creatures to watch. They are extremely curious and sure to steal your heart with their long necks, beautiful patchwork coat, and lovable nature. Despite that they are one of the most recognizable animals in the animal kingdom, there are a lot of unknown facts about them. We had terrific guides throughout our SkySafari that were a wealth of knowledge, and I certainly learned a lot! Here are 10 things you might not know about giraffes.
Until you see it, you don’t realize how hard the world’s tallest animal has it. Sure, they may be able to reach the best leaves at the very top of the trees. But imagine the effort that giraffes have to go through just to get a drink of water. They have to get into a pretty awkward position, spreading their front legs wide and craning their neck downward. Not only does it strain their neck, but the awkward position leaves them extremely vulnerable to predators like crocodiles. To help with this, their digestive system can obtain almost all the water that they need from the leaves that they eat. Adult giraffes only need to drink once every couple of days.
Both male and female giraffes have horns, but the tops of the horns on a male are almost always bald while a female’s horns will be completely covered with hair. This is because males establish dominance by fighting with other males and the hair on top of the horns gets torn off. Females don’t fight, so they never lose the hair on their horns.
Giraffes look thin because they are so tall, but an adult male can weigh up to 3600 pounds and an adult female weighs on average 1800 pounds. The average sedan in the United States tips in between 1800 and 3000 pounds.
4. Giraffes can run. Fast.
Though most of the time you’ll see giraffes walking leisurely around, they can run. Their long legs help them run up to 35 miles per hour over short distances or to cruise comfortably at around 10 miles per hour over longer distances.
Giraffes have a symbiotic relationship with some birds, who help giraffes keep clean by eating mites and dirt off of them. What do the birds get in return? A tasty meal and a free ride!
Baby giraffes weigh in at around 200 pounds and are already 6 feet tall when they are born. They learn to stand almost immediately at birth. They grow quickly, nearly doubling their height in their first year.
Most of the time on safari, you’ll find giraffes using their long necks to pluck leaves off the tops of trees. That’s because they spend most of their time eating each day and eat around 75 pounds of foliage every day. Their favorite meal is typically the leaves of acacia trees.
Giraffes can live in groups of up to 30 animals and the collective name for giraffes is a tower.
No pure albino giraffes have ever been discovered, but rare white giraffes do exist. White giraffes still do have some pigmentation and dark eyes. Because they are so rare, it was a special treat to see one in Serengeti National Park.
While the different sub-species of giraffes can appear to be similar, all giraffes have a unique pattern. Their spots also darken with age, and scientists have said that they can calculate their age from this darkening.
Our trip to Tanzania was hosted by SkySafari by Elewana in order for us to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own.