Giraffes are the world’s tallest animals. Male giraffes may grow more than eighteen feet tall, approximately five feet taller than an elephant. They mostly live in Africa south of the Sahara in open woodlands. Their long necks help them reach leaves on the top of tall trees on which they feed. They feed on the leaves, twigs, and fruit of trees and bushes. Giraffes can go without drinking water for many weeks.
Giraffes walk by moving both legs on one side of the body forward almost together and then both legs on the other side. When giraffes run, both rear feet swing onward and land outside and in front feet. Giraffes can gallop up to 35 miles per hour.
To drink, giraffes spread their forelegs apart, or bend them onward, so that their mouth can reach down to drink water. A giraffe usually sleeps stands up. When lying down, it holds its neck upright or rests it on one of its hips or on a low tree limb.
Humans have greatly reduced the number of giraffes by hunting them and by changing territories once taken by giraffes into farms. Today, most giraffes live in protected areas and zoos. Humans use giraffes for several purposes. For example, some Africans use the tail hairs for ornaments and threads. They use the hides for shields and twist shredded tendons to make bowstrings.
Although a giraffe’s neck is nearly 6 feet (2 meters) long, it only has seven bones—that’s the same number of bones as in your neck.
A giraffe’s tongue is dark blue.
Giraffes usually stand up when they sleep. If they slept lying down, it would take them too long to get up if a predator came near.
Check out more Giraffe Facts.