Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Giraffe

We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the African Savanna to take a peek at the world’s tallest mammal, the giraffe. These animals are fascinating and fun, so let’s take a looooong look at it.

So Long!
Perhaps the first thing we think of we when hear the word “giraffe” is how tall this animal is. They measure 14-19 feet (4-6m) in height. The legs alone are taller than most humans – about 6 feet (1.8m). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long, measuring 21 inches (53 cm) and its tail can be another 8 feet long (2.4 m).

The giraffe’s long legs enable it to run up to 35 miles (56 km) for short distances and 10 miles per hour (16 km) on average. However, their super long legs also pose a problem – they have to spread them wide apart to take a drink of water.

Wild World Fact…A walking giraffe moves both right legs forward, then both the left

Giraffe Food

The giraffe is a herbivore, which means they eat different types of leaves and grass. Their favorite food is the leaves from the Acacia tree. They can pack away up to 75 pounds (34 kilos) of this food everyday, but they don’t drink as much water; only about 10 gallons (37.8 litres). Most of the moisture the giraffe needs is found in the thorny Acacia leaves.

Since these leaves are so spiky the giraffe’s tongue and lips are very tough to protect it. They also have an antiseptic (cleanser) in their saliva in case they do get poked.

Like a cow, the giraffe will chew its cud. This is done by the animal eating a large amount of food, then bringing it back up into its mouth to eat all over again. Talk about recycling!

Wild World Fact…the extra long neck and tongue of the giraffe helps it reach leaves on the top of the trees.

More Fun Giraffe Facts

~ Giraffe infants are almost 6 feet tall when they’re born and begin to walk in 10 hours
~ Giraffe’s are social and a herding animal
~ Even though the giraffe is silent most of the time, it is able to make sounds similar to a cow and goat.
~ Neck wrestling is a form of dominance displayed by the males in a herd.
~ The giraffe has a lot of heart – it weighs 24 pounds (10.9 kilos) and is 2 feet (60.9 cm) in length!
~ The spots on a giraffe are all unique, like our fingerprints, and as it ages they turn darker.

For more information on the giraffe, visit your local library, a nature preserve or the Internet.

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