[ Matt's World of Wicked Giraffes]

Fast Facts

 

  • The neck veins contain valves and a network of tiny veins (rete mirabile) to prevent blackouts when it lowers its head to drink. They act temporarily as collecting vessels which compensate for the pressure in the brain.
  • The giraffe's heart can weigh more than 24 pounds.
  • The heart pumps approximately 16 gallons per minute.
  • The giraffe has twice as many blood corpuscles than we do. corpuscle
  • A corpuscle is a blood cell
  • Giraffes reach a deep sleep for 1-12 minutes.
  • In deep sleep the neck is bent backward like a handle, the chin touches the ground behind the tarsal joint of the stretched hind leg, and the lower jaw rests on the shank.
  • Usually giraffe rest standing up, flicking their ears and keeping one eye open alternately to keep alert. They have got to be ready to run away.
  • Giraffe can see miles away, communicating with distant friends.
  • When catching a giraffe, for a zoo exhibit or observation, care has to be taken to not chase them too long, because they will have a heart attack, due to their high blood pressure. So the scientists go after the younger, sprightlier giraffes most of the time. Then a blindfold is placed over their eyes, so they are not terrified even more.
  • Unknown nomadic males may stimulate serious fighting by exchanging sledgehammer blows using the side of the head.
    Rank order fights between two individuals may last for a quarter of an hour or even longer (15 minutes).
  • Giraffe males generally live peacefully beside each other after they have determined who is the strongest.
  • Giraffe's tongues are like hands (prehensile), about 24 inches long, and black.
  • During mating season, the male giraffe nudges the female's behind to induce urination. He then tastes the urine to see if the female is in heat.
  • Mothers give birth standing up, so the baby is dropped about six feet to the ground onto their head.
    See a giraffe birth at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • The baby giraffes are, on average, 6 feet tall when born, weighing 110-120 pounds.
    Offspring begin browsing in their first month and are rarely observed to suckle after they start eating leaves.
  • First year calf mortality is about 58%.
  • Calves may be taken by hyena, leopards and African wild dogs. But the lion is the main predator.
  • Life expectancy is 20-25 years.
  • Reticulated Giraffes are characterized by large polygons separated by cream-colored lines rather like a large net thrown over a colored ground, hence the name "reticulated" giraffe. (reticulated means 'like a net')
  • The word "giraffe" comes from an Arabic word, "zirafah", which means "the tallest of all".
    Oxpeckers or tick birds will land on a giraffe and search for ticks or insect pests to eat. This helps both the giraffe and the bird.
  • In Africa you can still find giraffe meat on some menus.
  • Giraffes drink water if it is available but can go weeks without it. Otherwise they rely on the morning dew and the water content of their food. At the water hole, up to 12 gallons may be taken in at once.

From the book
"Tall Blondes - a book about giraffes" by Lynn Sherr

  • They are the tallest quadrupeds, reaching eighteen feet or more for males, a dainty sixteen feet for females. And while the bulls (males) can weigh 1.5 tons, the cows (females) are a trim .5 ton. The record for a giraffe shot by a hunter was a nine-teen-foot-three-inch bull from Kenya.
  • Their sturdy front legs appear much longer than the rear pair, because their backbone angles down toward the rump. In fact, all four legs are almost the same size, and each lands in a cloven hoof the size of a dinner plate.
  • One species of the acacia owes its name to the giraffe, and some seeds germinate only after passing through the giraffe's digestive track.
  • Their only natural enemies are the lion and, on occasion, the hyena and the leopard. Humans - who have killed them in the name of sport, or science, or capitalism (the giraffe's tail has been used as a flyswatter, its hide for buckets or shields) - are now forbidden by law to hunt them in the wild.
  • They are one of the only animals born with horns, which can number up to five and get bonier with age. A short, stiff mane runs the length of their neck.
  • Giraffes are not mute. They have vocal chords but rarely use them. They don't need to. Their monumental size lets them see and communicate readily with their eyes.
  • They have no tear ducts but have been seen to cry.
  • They have never been seen to bathe.
  • A special joint enables the giraffe to raise its head vertically in line with the neck and even a bit farther back, a special feature that makes those out-of-the-way leaves easier to nibble.
    Still, for all its span, the giraffe's neck is too short to reach the ground. As a result, the animal has to spread its legs precariously or kneel down on padded "knees" (which are really wrists) to take a drink
  • For the amble, or slow pace, giraffes move both right legs at once, then both left.
  • Child care can be cooperative, in nurseries formed by groups of cows.
  • Giraffes mature by their fourth year.
  • They can live to be almost thirty years
  • People who work with them disagree on how smart the giraffe really is, but one expert noted that "an analysis of its brain formation shows the highest development of nervous center among artiodactyls [cloven-hoofed animals]: the index of its cerebrum is 29.5 compared with 20 in wild cattle and 14 in pigs."
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