With their long, graceful necks and beautiful patterning, giraffes are one of the most unique and majestic animals on the planet. They are also very peaceful animals, which only adds to their appeal. It's certainly not difficult to see why giraffes are one of the most popular animals.
Personally, I've always loved giraffes. They're incredibly cute and actually quite friendly. Whenever I've seen them in zoos, they always lean down and try to get a closer look at us, just like we're trying to watch them. There was even one that tried to lean right through our car window as we stopped to take a look. Of course, I'm sure wild giraffes are happier to ignore their human neighbors, but they still live in harmony with us.
People have always been fascinated by this remarkable animal. They are a part of many local African cultures and are a favorite among people in all areas of the world. They're at the top of many people's list of animals they want to see live, especially in the wild. In fact, I've never met anyone who doesn't want to see a giraffe.
There's an endless array of unique giraffe gifts out there. I've hunted for what I think are the best options, from the very small to the very large. Along the way, you'll learn some interesting facts and be treated to some cute photographs and videos.
A Remarkable Animal
The giraffe is an incredibly fascinating animal. Not only is it the tallest mammal on Earth (5.2 meters for males), it has the longest tail of any mammal. Including the tuft, their tail can reach 8 feet. At about 6 feet, their legs alone are taller than most humans. An adult male typically weighs about 1600 kg. This is more than many cars that are on the road today.
Their necks are 1.5-1.8 meters long. Average human height falls within this range. Despite this incredible length, they actually have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans do. This gives them an incredible range of motion.
Even their heart is two feet long, the height of a child. Their heart pressure is higher than any other mammal; this means they cannot run quickly for very long. However, when they do need to run, they can reach speeds of 31-37 miles per hour. They can gallop comfortably at 10 miles per hour for longer periods of time.
Giraffes aren't typically aggressive, even with each other. When the males fight, the battle usually only lasts a few minutes and ends when one gives in and leaves. This is called "necking" and they are rarely hurt during it. Giraffes are generally communal animals, roaming through the grasslands of Africa in small groups.
They require very little sleep. They spend just ten minutes to two hours each day sleeping, less than almost any other mammal on Earth.
They're too cute not to watch!
If you're looking for a daily dose of cuteness, you need to watch this video. You'll get up close and personal with a baby giraffe as he follows the camera.
More Giraffe Facts
- Did you know that every giraffe's spots are unique, just like human fingerprints? They may look the same when we're not paying attention, but as soon as you look closely, you can see just how distinct each animal's patterning is from each other. Giraffes from the same area will look similar to each other, but still maintain subtle differences.
- A giraffe's horns are called "ossicones." Both males and females have ossicones and the males will sometimes use them when fighting.
- They rarely lie down. Occasionally, they will fold their legs under them and lie down for a while, but they generally spend their lives standing. They even give birth and sleep while standing up. When they do lie down, they will sometimes munch on low lying vegetation.
- "Giraffa" translates to "one who walks swiftly." Each step a giraffe takes is 15 feet long!
- In the wild, they live to about twenty-five years. In captivity, they may live up to thirty years.
- It used to be thought that they are silent, but we now know they make a wide variety of sounds. They bellow, hiss, and snort. They also makes noises that are too low for humans to hear.
Giraffes live in the wild only in Africa. They cover the central, eastern, and southern parts of the continent. They prefer wide open spaces, since it's easier for them to move through these areas with their tall necks. Therefore, they typically live in the grasslands, savannahs, and open plains of the continent. However, they will also live in wooded areas when they need to.
They are currently under threat by humans as we continue to cut back their natural habitat. They typically need anywhere from 8 to 50 square miles to roam, but as humans continue to encroach, giraffes are finding it increasingly difficult to find this space. They are happy to overlap their territory with another herd, but this only works up to a point before food runs out.
They love to munch
Giraffes eat a variety of leaves and twigs, but they especially love the acacia leaf. They eat up to 75 pounds of food a day, mainly consisting of this delicious leaf. They are able to get most of their required water from the acacia leaf, and therefore only need to drink every few days.
Their long neck allows it to easily reach higher leaves that other animals can't get, which is certainly an advantage in the wild since they don't need to compete as heavily for food. However, even with this advantage, they spend a great deal of their time eating and need to travel great distances in order to find enough food. Their long tongues also help them as they feast. They will actually regurgitate some of their food, just like cows, and chew it again.
Their height is a disadvantage when trying to drink water, though. They have to bend in a rather awkward position in order to reach the water, which leaves them vulnerable to predators. However, travelling in groups can help decrease this risk, and their height allows them to check their surroundings carefully before taking a drink.
Cute Baby Giraffe Videos
Babies are always adorable, no matter what they're doing. What could be cuter than a "tiny" baby giraffe having trouble holding it's long neck up? If you don't believe me, check out this video of a baby giraffe at his cutest. It's so cute, you'll definitely have to watch it more than once. Just don't blame me if you want to run out and find one to adopt for a pet!
Because all babies are cute!
Baby giraffes have a bit of a difficult time at birth; it's another instance where a giraffe's height isn't always a good thing. Because female giraffes give birth standing up, their babies must drop 5 feet to the ground when they are born. However, this fall doesn't seem to phase the babies. Within a half an hour they are able to stand up and they can run alongside their mothers after 10 hours.
Many females will return to the same spot where they were born to give birth, but this does not always happen. Giraffes don't have a normal time of year for breeding. Their gestation period is about 15 months and there is often synchronization between mothers so that there is safety in numbers. This helps to protect both mothers and newborns against predators. Mothers often form "nursery groups" where one mother will watch several babies while the other mothers go in search of food. Babies are raised solely by the females.
Just like humans, they usually have only one baby at a time. Twins have happened, but are not common. Calves grow quickly and typically double their height in their first year of life.
The giraffe's ancestors date back millions of years and used to cover much of Eurasia. The oldest members were actually much smaller than today, reaching the height of a deer. Identifying the various fossils as belonging to the Giraffidae family has actually been quite difficult and at various points some of these fossils were incorrectly thought to be similar to elephants or antelopes. Prehistoric species varied greatly, ranging from larger boned animals to more slender boned animals.
Today, only two species still exist: our modern giraffe and the okapi. The okapi looks distinctly different from a giraffe and is much smaller, but is actually it's closest living relative. They also live in Africa, but only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Leave a comment! - Let me know what you think!
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on July 07, 2014:
I absolutely love giraffes! You have several items featured that I would love to have.
Stephanie (author) from Canada on June 29, 2014:
@Charito1962: I think the tea kettle is my favorite, too! :)
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on June 26, 2014:
I like the tea kettle and the handpainted wine glass!
BodyHairRemoval on May 25, 2014:
Wow, these are unique gifts!
Anna from chichester on May 22, 2014:
I adore all these gifts! What a great selection! The teapot is too cute, as is the flower pot :)
Stephanie (author) from Canada on April 22, 2014:
@Heidi Vincent: That's probably my favorite, too! :)
Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on April 22, 2014:
I loved the whistling kettle :)
Rob Hemphill from Ireland on December 23, 2013:
These gentle giants of Africa are so beautiful!
TanoCalvenoa on November 22, 2013:
Unbelievably great animals, a favorite when I've gone to zoos.
Tom Christen from Switzerland/Ecuador on November 04, 2013:
Cool lens! thank you for sharing, its fun!
Stephanie (author) from Canada on August 29, 2013:
@darkflowers: Thank you very much!
Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on August 29, 2013:
Cute Lens, Giraffes are beautiful animals. Well done!