A giraffe is the tallest mammal species on earth and has a unique body structure characterised by a spotted pattern, a long neck, and tall legs. Previously, scientists and zoologists believed that the giraffe was a cross between a camel and a leopard. That’s why Giraffa camelopardalis is the scientific name of this tall specie.
Giraffes are native to Africa’s sub-Saharan and savanna regions. Unlike other animals in these areas, giraffes’ extended height allows them to reach and eat shoots and leaves located higher on trees. There are many interesting facts about giraffes, and in today’s article, I will give five interesting facts you may not know about giraffe birth.
Giraffe Pregnancy Lasts for 15 Months
Before we tell you about giraffe pregnancy, understanding the mating process is crucial. Compared to other species in the African sub-Saharan region, giraffes can mate at any time of the year. However, mating depends on various factors, such as weather (rainy season), water and food availability, and suitable habitat.
The purpose of mating during the rainy season is to ensure the baby giraffe arrives in dry conditions, helping parents protect their young one from harsh weather conditions. Besides, the female giraffe urinates before mating, and the male giraffe smells the urine. The male giraffe then licks the female’s tail and lifts her front leg to perform the intercourse.
Research shows that a female giraffe has a pregnancy or gestation period of 15 months or between 453 and 464 days. Remember that giraffes have the most prolonged pregnancy periods in the animal kingdom. Besides, females give birth to one baby at a time. However, they also give birth to twins occasionally.
Giraffes Give Birth Standing Up
Calving grounds are places for giraffes to give birth to their babies. The unique thing about calving grounds is that mothers return to these areas from time to time to give birth. Most researchers assume that a calving ground is the same place where the parents were born, and the herd continues the tradition for several generations.
The exciting fact about giraffes is that they give birth standing up, allowing the baby to enter the world from six feet in height. According to Animal Fact Encyclopedia, a baby giraffe’s head and hooves hit the ground when they fall from six feet. Although the newly born giraffe’s fall seems strange, it benefits the mother and the calf. It helps in breaking the umbilical cord and amniotic sac.
At the same time, the hard fall encourages the newborn giraffe to breathe the fresh air and fill its lungs with oxygen. Keep in mind that familiarity with the habitat is essential for the baby calf because conditions in the wild are usually not favourable. Once the baby drops to the ground, the mother will clean it off. The calf will take its first steps after a few minutes.
Baby Giraffe is 5-6 Feet Tall and Active
Baby giraffes are active and fast within ten hours after their birth. Not only does a baby giraffe runs energetically, but it also stays active like adult members of the herd. Besides, a baby giraffe has a height of five to six feet at birth. The baby unravels its legs fifteen minutes after the birth.
The weight of a baby giraffe is between 100 and 150 pounds at birth. Baby giraffes become fully mature or adults when they turn four years old. According to Live Science, a male giraffe reaches a height of 18 feet and a weight of 3,000 pounds when it fully matures.
On the other hand, female giraffes grow about 14 feet tall and weigh no more than 15,000 pounds. Moreover, a baby giraffe grows one inch a day, and when the baby is about one year old, it has a height of ten feet. A baby giraffe takes milk from the mother and nibbles at other foods within a few days after its birth.
Male and Female Baby Giraffes have Different Ossicones
Although male and female baby giraffes have ossicones or little horns on their heads made of soft tissues/cartilage, female calves have thinner horns and longer hair. Male calves have larger ossicones with knobs-like structures at the end.
These knobs become balder when the male giraffes grow up. Like other species with antlers or horns, male giraffes use their horns for protection against predators, such as lions and leopards.
That’s why male giraffes are the primary protectors of the herd. In addition, baby giraffes have smaller necks than adult ones. However, male babies have slightly longer necks than female ones.
The Entire Herd Cares for the Baby
In such a situation, another female giraffe takes care of the baby, and the entire herd stays around to protect the calf. Most female giraffes take their babies to the nursery herds, allowing them to play and have fun with other calves.
A baby giraffe is the most vulnerable among the herd during the first few weeks after birth. It can’t protect or defend itself from predators, including wild dogs, hyenas, lions, leopards, and crocodiles. Therefore, a mother stays close to the calf and encourages the entire herd to create a protective environment to mitigate the risk of enemy attacks.
Giraffes are the world’s tallest and most iconic mammal species that inspire amazement and curiosity. These species encourage people and communities to drive conservation and eco-tourism.
These mammal species live in harmony with grass-eating species and play a critical role in the local ecosystem of savannah, woodlands, and sub-Saharan regions. While you can find dozens of interesting facts about giraffes, information about these species giving birth to their young ones is fascinating.