Giraffes

Tiffany Wu

Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals. Giraffe’s legs
alone are 6 feet long. Typically, giraffes roam around open grasslands in small
groups of around half a dozen.  Giraffes use their height to advantage and browse on leaves and6 buds in treetops. The giraffe's tongue alone is 21 inches, they have magnificent spotted coats with no two individuals having exactly the same pattern. Female giraffes give birth standing up, the young falls more than 5 feet to the ground at birth and within around half an hour the young can stand up and run with their mother ten hours after birth.

Habitat

A giraffe lives in a terrestrial environment. It consists of mainly savannah and dry open woodland, especially regions with acacia (small thorny tree)which is one of the giraffe’s favourite foods. Historically, the giraffe existed throughout Africa today however, they only occur naturally in the sub-Saharan regions of the continent, ranging from southern Mali to Kenya and south to northern South Africa. Giraffes gather around waterholes and rivers during the dry season but move into open woodlands during the rains. Giraffes are active during the night and cooler hours but rest during the heat of the day.Expanding human activities, overhunting and changes in climate have drastically reduced giraffe populations in recent years , especially in western Africa.

Fertilisation

Giraffes cross fertilise and are polygamous. Bulls carefully guard a female from other male giraffes. they are cross fertilisation. Courtship starts when a bull approaches a cow to perform a urine test, smelling the urine with a pronounced lip curl, a behaviour referred to as flehmen. The bull will then proceed to rub his head near the rump of the female and rest it on her back. Male giraffes lick the tail of the female and lift his foreleg. If receptive, the female giraffe will the circle the male and hold her tail out and take on a mating position , after copulation occurs.  Fertilisation of a giraffe is internal, it has separate sexes. Mating is not seasonal. Fertilisation takes place in the womb. Giraffe’s gestation period is 15 months. Giraffes give birth standing up, the young fall 5 feet into the world. These infants can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers 10 hours after birth. A disadvantage is that cross fertilisation is slower than self fertilisation. The estrus cycle is 15 days and normally one egg is released during this cycle.

Development

The development of a baby giraffe(calf) is internal, the calf develops in the mothers womb for 15 months. The giraffe is viviparity, as a most mammals and some types of reptiles. the horns of a calf are small bumps of cartilege.newborns are able to stand up about 20 minutes after birth and start suckling after an hour.  the calf develops in the placenta (like humans).some disadvantages of only having one offspring at a time is that if anything where to happen to the calf then the mothher would be absoutly devasted.

Parental Care

A giraffe’s gestation lasts 15 months after which a single calf is normally born. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls 6 feet to the ground. Within a couple of hours after birth, the calf can run around. However the first 1-3 weeks it spends its time hiding, its coat providing camouflage. It is very rare for there to be twins.

Giraffes use k selection. Mothers with calves will gather in nursery herds, moving or browsing together. Mothers in such a group may sometimes leave their carves with one female while they go and forage and drink elsewhere. This is known as a calving pool. Adult males have almost no play in raising the young. Calves are at a risk of predators  and a mother giraffe will stand over her calf and kick the approaching predator. The bond a mother shares with her calf varies, though it can it last until her next calf.There would be a lot of parental care as calfs are very fragile when young and mother giraffes will often protect the calf from predators and other giraffes.

Interesting Facts

  • Giraffes only spend between 10 minutes and two hours asleep per day. They have one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal
  • Drinking is one of the most dangerous times for a giraffe. While it is getting a drink it cannot keep a look out for predators and is vulnerable to attack
  • An adult giraffe’s heart is 2 feet long and weighs about 20 pounds
  • Giraffes cannot cough
  • A giraffe is able to clean its ears with its own tongue

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