Giraffe Facts

  • Giraffes are the tallest mammals, growing to more than 5 m. Their height allows them to reach and eat the leaves, twigs and fruit at the tops of trees.
  • The legs of a giraffe are almost 2 m long.
  • A giraffe’s neck may be over 2 m long, but it only has seven bones — the same number as humans.
  • Giraffes live in Africa, south of the Sahara, in bush country.
  • The giraffe’s long tongue is so tough that it can wrap around the thorns of a thorn tree to grab twigs.
  • When drinking, a giraffe has to spread its forelegs wide or kneel down to reach the water. This position makes it very vulnerable to attack by lions.
  • When giraffes walk, they move the two legs on one side of their body, the other two on the other side. Their long legs mean that when it comes to running they can gallop along faster than the speediest racehorse.
  • A giraffe’s coat is patched in brown on cream, and each giraffe has its own unique pattern. The reticulated giraffes of East Africa have triangular patches, but the South African Cape giraffes have blotchy markings.
  • During the breeding season, rival male giraffes rub their necks together and swing them from side to side. This is called necking.
  • When it is first born, a baby giraffe is very wobbly on its legs and so cannot stand up for at least its first half an hour.