Reticulated Giraffe

Scientific Name

Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata

Description

Also known as the Somali Giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to the Horn of Africa. The reticulated giraffe is tall, with males towering at 19 feet and weighing between 2400 – 4250 lbs. The female reticulated giraffe is approximately 17 feet tall and weighs between 1540 – 2600 lbs. Its extreme height and weight is largely from its very long neck which spans at least 8 feet and weighs approximately 500 lbs and its legs which are about 6 feet long. The giraffe is the tallest living land animal on Earth.

Despite having an incredibly long neck compared to humans, the giraffe’s neck is only made up of 7 bones, which is the same number of bones found in the human neck.

The giraffe has two strong and sharp horns that are made of bone and covered with skin. The bones are primarily used for sparring between the males. Like other giraffes, the reticulated giraffe is well known for its beautiful spots. Just like fingerprints are unique to human beings, these spots are also unique to giraffes. The Romans actually called it “camelopardalis”, which means a “camel market like a leopard.”

How long is a giraffe tongue?

Giraffes’ tongues are up to 20 inches long and are black and pink in color. The long tongue helps it easily grab leaves from trees.

Interactive 360 Degree Camera of Reticulated Giraffes

Click to play this video and use your mouse or finger to move the camera around and get an immersive 360 degree view of these giraffes in their enclosure!

Food

The reticulated giraffe is a herbivore. It mainly feeds on Acacia as well as Combretum trees. The giraffe is also known to eat at least 100 different types of plants as part of its diet. Thanks to its incredibly long neck, this giraffe is able to easily reach at least 6 feet of foliage above the ground compared to most animals. Using its long tongue and strong upper lip, the giraffe strips leaves, flowers, vines, and shoots of the trees. It needs to eat up to 75 pounds of vegetation on a daily basis and will drink water 2-3 days, although it’s not unusual for it to go for weeks without drinking any water. It quenches its thirst by eating leaves and leaves with dew. The giraffe can drink at least 12 gallons of water at a go. It has four stomachs, just like a cow which provide enough space for such a huge amount of water.

Habitat

The reticulated giraffe is native to Africa. The giraffe is found in the Horn of Africa, which include Somalia, Northern Kenya, and southern Ethiopia. Approximately 8500 reticulated giraffes are said to live in the wild in these regions. They are commonly found in habitats like woodlands, savannas, rainforests, and seasonal floodplains.

Predators

While adult giraffes are too huge to be killed by predators, the young giraffes are often more vulnerable to predators like lions, leopards, African wild dogs, and hyenas. Usually, the mother giraffe fiercely protects her young ones against predators. It throws powerful kicks to the predators but sadly, the calves risk getting killed by their own mothers through these kicks. Still, young giraffes aren’t often lucky as research indicates that at least 50 to 70 percent of giraffes are usually killed within their first few months by predators. The surviving giraffes have an estimated life-expectancy between 20 to 25 years.

When pacing, the giraffe moves like a camel by moving the legs on one side at the same time. But sometimes it must run from predators in a sort of gallop. When it gallops, the giraffe’s front legs pushes it forward while the back legs reach forward on the outside of the two front legs. The head and long neck also propels it. With this unique style of movement, the giraffe can run for miles.

How fast can a giraffe run?

For short distances, the giraffe can run 35 miles per hour. And for long distances, it can maintain speeds up to 10 miles per hour. However, if the giraffe is subjected to a very long distance high-speed chase, it can have a heart attack.

There are circumstances under which the giraffe’s speed will be impeded. If the giraffe is sick, it cannot cover as many paces as healthy and strong animals. A giraffe might be sick from giraffe skin disease (GSD), encephalitis, etc. If the giraffe is malnourished, it can lead to weakness and even sickness. Malnourished giraffe’s do not have the stamina needed for long-distance races. Another reason why a giraffe might not be able to run fast is old age. When old, it’s strength and stamina diminishes.

Predators of the giraffe, lions and hyenas, usually target the old, weak, and sick animals. When they give a chase, they look out for the ones that cannot run as fast as the others and go after them.

Why Do Giraffes Run?

There are several reasons why a giraffe would run. A giraffe can run for fun. While roaming the zoo and having a feel of its environment, it is not uncommon to see a giraffe break into an abrupt race. Giraffe’s tend to move in small groups of six, more or less. While playing among themselves, they may run, walk, or just make sudden movements.

The giraffes can also run from predators. The main predators of the giraffe are the lion and the hyena. The lion runs faster than the giraffe, covering up to 50 miles per hour. The hyena can run 35 mph – about the same as an adult giraffe.

Social Structure

Unlike most animals, the reticulated giraffes do not have a very rigid social structure. Herds may either consist of all males, a mix of females and their young ones, or a mix of all. Unlike other herds, a 20-giraffe herd usually doesn’t have a leader. Because of their huge size, they don’t necessarily need to stay together in tight social groups. It’s not uncommon for a single herd to be spread out over half a mile. And thanks to their height, they are always able to keep an eye on each other over a distance.

A herd of reticulated giraffes in the wild

During mating, male reticulated giraffes engage in fights using their strong necks and horns to deliver strong blows to their opponents. The dominant male often mates with the female after winning the mating contest. Once the dominant males have been established, the giraffes often live peacefully and harmoniously with each other.

Birth & Offspring

The mother usually takes care and guards her calf who usually spends most of its time lying down. In cases where a herd as many calves, one female may take care of all the young ones until they are old enough.

Female giraffes give birth standing up, causing the baby giraffe to fall over 5 feet to the ground! In order to flee from a dangerous environment, baby giraffes can stand up just 30 minutes after being born and can even run after being alive for only 10 hours.

Giraffe Gestation Period

The gestation period of a reticulated giraffe is usually between 14-15 months, after which a large baby giraffe is born.

How tall is a baby giraffe?

Baby giraffes are typically around 6 feet tall and weigh 110 – 154 lbs.

Senses

The reticulated giraffes have a powerful sense of hearing and smell. Their eyesight is pretty good too – combined with their height, giraffes are able to see predators up to a mile away! it allows it to keep an eye on the other herd members. The giraffes are normally silent most of the time which causes people to assume that they are mute. However, they do produce varying sounds like grunts, growl, bleat, moo, snort, sneeze, and even cough. They also have scent glands that emit pungent odor. 

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