Fun Facts About the Giraffe

Baby giraffe
Getty Images

The giraffe is my favorite animal to spot on safari. They're absolutely unique, you can't help but smile when you see them. Their size is awe inspiring and their movements are utterly graceful. There is nothing that gets me more excited than spotting a giraffe when I am on a game drive. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are not aggressive so there's never any need to worry about trying to get close .... and they have blue tongues. What more could you want from an animal?

You can spot giraffe in all the major safari destinations in Africa, and no matter what the season is - whether the grasses are big or short, dense or sparse; they're not hard to find. While most people on safari look for " The Big 5" ... I have yet to meet someone who would prefer to spot a buffalo over a giraffe! 

While the most common species of Giraffe are not listed as critically endangered, their habitats are fast disappearing. The giraffe's main predators include lion, crocodile, and leopard. But of course, humans are the main enemy, as giraffe are hunted for their pelts, meat and their tails used as fly-whisks.

The number of giraffe throughout sub-Saharan Africa has almost halved in the past 15 years. There is now an estimated 80,000 giraffe left, but in certain areas such as West Africa, their numbers are frighteningly tiny. A mere 200 or so individuals are thought to still be alive in in West Africa.

Fun Facts to Celebrate the Giraffe

  • Giraffe not only have blue colored tongues, but their tongues are often over 20 inches long.
  • Both male and female giraffe have skin-covered  5-inch knobs on their heads called ossicones. Female giraffes have a tuft of hair on their ossicones.
  • Giraffe s have outrageously long necks. The giraffe neck contains special veins and blood valves to stop the giraffe from blacking out when it takes a drink.
  • Giraffes can survive without water for weeks at a time.
  • When they walk, giraffe s move both legs on the same side of their body at the same time, it's a gait that is unique to their species.
  • Baby giraffes drop six feet to the ground when born but manage to stand up just five minutes later.
  • If you're out camping in the African bush you'll never be startled by a loud growling or grunting from a giraffe, they are very quiet indeed.
  • A group of giraffe is called a "tower of giraffe" (see more fun "group names")
  • The scientific name for a giraffe is Giraffa camelopardalis. The name derives from the fact that people thought the animal was a cross between a leopard and a camel.
  • Giraffe grow up to 19 feet tall, weigh up to 3,000 lbs and average 25 years of life. Giraffe gets the prize for the tallest mammal on earth.
  • Giraffe enemies include lions, crocodiles and of course humans (who use giraffe tails to make fly whisks ....)
  • Giraffe's favorite food is the Acacia tree.
  • Giraffe only sleep for a couple of hours a day.
  • Giraffe live throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but they are highly endangered in West Africa where only 200 individuals survive.

More Wildly Fun Facts About Animals You Can See in Africa

Discover why hyena poop is white, why elephants suck their trunks, how many men black mamba venom can kill, whether lions can swim and hippos jump. Here are some funny, amazing and true facts about wild animals you can see on safari in Africa.

Sources and Additional Links