Giraffe: Africa's Tallest Animal

12Jan
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Giraffe are Africa's tallest animal and are regularly seen on safari at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa. The average height of an adult male giraffe is 5.5m (18 feet) and their their legs alone are taller than many humans. Adult female giraffes are usually shorter than males. We love the fact mentioned in this video that giraffe are 4.6 times taller than Danny DeVito, the American actor who is 1.47 m tall!

Giraffe Babies and Crazy Long Tongues

Baby Giraffe and Mother at Kariega Game Reserve

We love all animals but Africa's tallest animal baby is particularly awesome. This photograph was taken by guide Brendon shortly after the birth of this little giraffe. So cute!

Giraffe come into the world with a bang as the mother giraffe gives birth standing up. The newborn giraffe falls about 1.5 m (5 feet) and generally lands on its head. This impact helps the baby to take its first breath. A new born calf will stand within half an hour of birth and after 10 hours can run alongside their mother and siblings. The gestation period for a giraffe is about 15 months. Generally, only a single baby is born.

Watch this video where one of our Kariega guides captured the miracle of a giraffe giving birth on film.

The female giraffe uses her long tongue to clean her baby after birth. A giraffes tongue is on average 45 cm (17 inches) long and exceptionally strong. Giraffe use their bluish-purple tongues to rip the leaves from between the spikes of acacia trees, their preferred food. Some scientists think that the giraffes tongue is dark in colour so that it doesn't get sunburnt.

A giraffes tongue is very tough, but if they are spiked by a thorn, their saliva acts as an antiseptic. Their thick saliva also coats any thorns that are mistakenly eaten and make sure that they exit the giraffe without causing any damage to their digestive tract.

Africa's Tallest Animal Chews for Eight Hours Daily

Giraffe are ruminants, mammals that digest food by softening it within one section of their stomachs and then regurgitating the “cud” (partially digested food) in order to chew it again. Ruminants have a four-chambered stomach. Other ruminants include antelope, deer, cows and sheep.

It is amazing fact that giraffe chew for eight hours a day and about 40,000 times every day. Goodness knows how scientists counted all of these chews!

Giraffes need for water is reduced by the fact that they are able to obtain almost all they need from the plants they eat. An adult giraffe will only need to drink water once a day, whereas younger giraffes are even more efficient at getting the water they need from their diet and often do not need to drink water at all. Giraffe do not sweat or pant like many other mammals, their body temperature fluctuates according to the surrounding temperatures this allows them to conserve water.

Africa's Tallest Animal Drinking at Kariega Game Reserve

Read More About Giraffe: Africa's Tallest Animal

Find out more about Africa's tallest animal on our top giraffe blogs:

You can also read all of our articles about giraffes.

If you would like to see Africa's tallest animal on safari at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa you should check our availability and rates online, book via our secure online system or contact us via email on reservations@kariega.co.za for more information. View our safari special offers. We can also assist with South Africa tours and can put you in touch with experienced and trusted tour specialists. Contact us to plan your South Africa safari tour today!

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Giraffe images thanks to Kariega guide Brendon Jennings. Video thanks to Ferg Clarke.