Towering legs and long necks make giraffes the world’s tallest mammals. A giraffe’s legs alone are taller than many humans are—about six feet (1.8 meters).
These long legs allow giraffes to run as fast as 35 miles (56 kilometres) an hour over short distances and journey comfortably at 10 miles (16 kilometres) an hour over longer distances.
Normally, these fascinating animals roam the open grasslands in small groups of about six. They have a life span of about 25 years.
Male giraffes are called bulls. Sometimes they battle one another using their long necks and heads. Such contests are usually not dangerous and end when one animal submits and walks away.
Giraffes use their height to good advantage. They eat leaves from treetops that few other animals can reach (acacias are a favourite). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long! The 53-centimeter tongue helps them pluck tasty morsels from branches.
Giraffes eat most of the time. A giraffe eats hundreds of kilos of leaves each week and must travel miles to find enough food.
The giraffe’s height also helps it to look out for predators across the wide African savannah. The height can be a disadvantage as well—it is difficult and dangerous for a giraffe to drink at a water hole.
To do so they must spread their legs and bend down in an awkward position that makes them vulnerable to predators like Africa’s big cats.
Giraffes only need to drink once every several days since they get most of their water from the plants they eat.
Giraffes have beautiful spotted coats. While no two individuals have exactly the same pattern, giraffes from the same area appear similar.
In Rwanda, giraffes can be found in Akagera national park.