Giraffes

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 2568
  • Published: March 18, 2007
Read full document
Text Preview
The word "giraffe" comes from the Arabic word, "zirafah," meaning "the tallest of all." The giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world, standing up to nine feet tall and weighing up to 2,800 pounds! This huge mammal is best known for its long neck, spotted pattern, and long legs. The giraffe's scientific classification begins with the kingdom of animalia. From there is the phylum of chordate, and after that is the class of mammalian. Next, is the order of artiodactyla, then the family of giraffidea. Fallowing the family is the genus of giraffe. Last but not least, is the species of g. camelopardalis. The giraffe relies on a lot of different sensory modalities in different situations, from eating to communicating with others of his or her kind. Sight would have to be the giraffe's most important sensory modality. The sensory modality of sight is used 24/7. Giraffes can be up to a half of a mile apart from each other and still be able to maintain eye contact. Watching out for predators, eating, watching ones offspring, drinking, these are just a few examples of a time a giraffe would need the ability to see. Giraffes are social, non-territorial, living in easygoing, open herds. A herd of giraffes can be made up of all males, all females, females and their young, or of both sexes and all ages. There is no specific leader of any herd. Female giraffes are more social then male giraffes and are almost never out of sight from another female. Males stay in female herds until they outgrow their resemblance to females at about three years old. A giraffe is also known to be on its own or to be with only their offspring. Actually, giraffes very rarely are bunched up together unless they happen to be interested in the same food source or are nervous of a near predator. Even when giraffes are at rest they are usually about twenty yards apart from one another.

Giraffes can be found in central, eastern, and southern Africa. They live in the dry and arid savanna, also known as grasslands, zones south of the Sahara. The perfect environment for a giraffe would include tall trees, clean water holes, dense forests, open plains, and arid land. The climate is usually warm and temperatures range from 68° to 86°F. Giraffes light fur ranges in color from light tan to deep chocolate brown, which helps them survive in the hot climates and to camouflage with the trees. There is a rainy and dry season in this particular habitat. Females spend a little more then half of their day browsing the plain, males do the same, but just a little less. The night is spent laying down and chewing cud, especially during the hours after dark and before dawn. Giraffe home ranges may be as small as a few square km or larger than 100 square km, depending on environmental variables, season, and individual differences. A majority of giraffes have been eliminated from West African and southern Kalahari range. Humans are a major predator to giraffes. Giraffes are hunted for their meat, coat, and tails. The tail is thought to bring good luck. The coat is used for shield coverings. Lions and spotted hyenas are also a few predators to giraffes. This relationship occurs between the predator and the giraffe calves. When this occurs the mother will step in and kick the predator with her front or hind legs. 50 to 75% of calves become prey to lions and spotted hyenas during the first month of their life. Habitat destruction is also a huge threat to the giraffe population. Giraffes are herbivores. Their long necks help Giraffes eat leaves from tall trees, mostly acacia trees. They also eat young shoots, seeds and pods. There is known to be 100 species of plants in a giraffe's diet. For example, Combretum, Terminalia, and Pterocarpus. Giraffes also have an extremely sticky, prehensile, long tongue, which allows them to feed on hard to reach leaves. Thickened saliva on the tongue and lips help protect them from thorns. The skull of a giraffe is attached to the neck; this...
tracking img