Giraffe. Giraffes.

Earth Science. Biblical.

Copyright (C) by Noelene Rout 3rd August 2007 All rights reserved.

Hebrew words used on this page can be found in Bible Concordances.

Numbers used on this page can be found in The Strongs Concordance of the Bible.

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A giraffe is shaped like a camel, and like a leopard it has brown spots on its tawny colored fur. The fur protects the giraffe from the hot African sun, and from the bites of small insects. The brown spots on the giraffe grow darker as the giraffe grows older. The giraffe has a flexible maned (fringed) neck which is about 1.8 metres long. It has a heavy head which is supported by the powerful muscles in its long neck which has the same amount of neck bones as man. The giraffes feet are small and they prefer to keep their feet on hard ground. The legs of a giraffe are longer than its neck. Giraffes use their legs to give their predators nasty kicks. Giraffes can gallop and run at speeds of around 60 kilometres an hour. Galloping herds of giraffes cause the ground to shake as they race across the land. The giraffe has a long tufted tail which it flicks about to drive away flies. Giraffes have rough and sensitive lips which they use like fingers to pull leaves off spiny Acacia trees. The rough tongue of an adult giraffe which is around forty six centimetres long, can be wrapped around hard to reach leaves high in the tops of trees, and the leaves can be pulled down into the giraffes mouth where they and the thorns are mixed with thick saliva chewed up and swallowed down. Not all trees are thorny, so, young giraffes take the branches of trees into their mouths and comb leaves off the branches with their teeth. Giraffes have from two, to even five horns upon their heads, the horns are covered with skin and have a tuft of black hair on the top, the horns continue to grow throughout the life of the giraffe. Giraffes who have long pointed ears, have excellent hearing, they have excellent eyesight, and a good sense of smell. Giraffes can close their nostrils like camels to keep out flies, and dust and sand during storms. Giraffes have divided hooves.

Males and females.
The male giraffe is called a bull, the female is called a cow. The male giraffe who weighs about 1,930 kilograms, can be as tall as 5.3 metres, and the female who weighs about 1,180 kilograms grows to about 4.5 metres tall. Giraffes are the tallest animals on earth.

Where do they live?
Giraffes live where there are large numbers of trees, in dry grassland, in loose herds, in the south of the Sahara desert.

Amids the spotted shadows of trees, a giraffe in its dappled colored coat is hard to be seen.

The heart of the giraffe.
The heart of the giraffe has to pump oxygen rich blood up the giraffes long neck and into its brain, so the heart of the giraffe has to work very hard. A giraffes heart pumps about 73 litres of blood per minute around the giraffes body. Within the giraffes neck there are special valves which stop the giraffes blood from being drained away from its high head by gravity.

Male giraffes test one anothers strength every day during “necking” and slow moving non-violent fights, they push against one another and they wrap their necks together in a ritual called “necking” to see which one of them is the strongest.

Full grown bulls know their places in the social scale of males. The dominant bull is the biggest and the strongest, he holds this position by displaying. When two bulls meet, the dominant male displays, he stretches himself up to his full height, and slowly paces with a stiff legged walk. He stares at the other bull until it looks away from him, and then that fight is over.

The bull fight.
When a strange bull enters into the territory of the dominant male, a short and silent bull fight will break out, but the fight is only used by the giraffes to determine the strangers strength.

The bulls lower their heads and charge at one another, each trying to ram the other with its lowered horns. They push one another about, and sometimes they hit one another with the sides of their heads.

The bulls territory.
Bulls leave the herd of males to establish their own territory when they are about ten years of age. The bull walks around looking for a large area that has plenty of food and water where he can settle down for the rest of his life. The bull knows his territory, he knows where the waterholes are, and he knows where to find his food.

When a bulls territory overlaps the territory of another bull the giraffes live in peace, because dominant bulls know that they can only hold position over their own territorial ground. Dominant bulls mate with the females who enter into their territory.

Giraffes mate at any time of the year. Males mate with the females when they have completed their growth at about ten years of age. The female is usually about four years of age. Low ranking bulls rarely mate with the females.

All bulls patrol their own territories smelling each of the females urine. When a dominant bull arrives on the scene, the other males leave, but the dominant male follows the female around until she allows him to mate, the male and the female will mate several times over the next couple of days after which the bull will leave and search for other females.

The birth of a giraffe.
The female giraffe is pregnant for around fifteen months, after which she leaves the herd to find a peaceful spot to give birth to her calf. Girrafes like to give birth to their calves in the same area. Giraffes generally give birth to a calf every twenty months. The giraffe remains standing for between one and two hours after which, the new born 102 kilograms and 1.9 metre tall calf is dropped two metres down and onto the hard ground. The young and weak calf which is unable to stand for around twenty minutes after its birth, is then licked clean by its mother who commits the memory of its scent into her mind. The young giraffe then repeatedly tries to stand up on its long and wobbly legs, and, gently rubbing its mothers teat with its nose, begins to suckle. The most dangerous moments of a young giraffes life are the first hours after its birth, because, the young giraffe is unable to run away from its enemies. The young giraffes enemies are dogs which hunt in packs, hyenas, leopards, and crocodiles. Female giraffes protect their young calves by kicking and killing, some of their attacking predators, and with all of this protection, fifty percent of the calves are killed during their first six months of life. When the calf is about ten days old the mother and her calf rejoin the herd, and when the mother goes looking for food, the calf joins a group of young giraffes for safety. Predators find it easier to catch a young giraffe on its own. When the mother returns to the herd the young giraffe runs beneath her body and suckles from her teats. As the young giraffe grows taller it becomes difficult for the calf to bend down to its mother’s teats. At about four months of age the young giraffe begins to eat leaves, but it continue’s to suckle from its mother for another eleven months. The size of a young giraffe is doubled in the first two years of its life. Female giraffes give birth to between 8 and twelve calves during their lives.

The first few months of a young giraffes life are spent running, playing with other calves, and exploring things.

Growing up.
Male calves leave their mothers and join groups of other males when they are four years old. The females remain with their mothers.

Adult giraffes browse on fresh leaves that grow on the tops of trees and shrubs. The taller bull stretches his neck to reach the highest leaves. While the cow browses on leaves that are level with her head. The giraffes only competition for food are monkeys who also feed among the tops of trees. Choice of the best food in a female herd goes to the highest ranking cow. Calves sometimes separate themselves from the adults to browse on juicy leaves that are found on the lower branches of smaller trees. Young calves can be attacked by predators when they leave the safety of the adults to feed from lower trees.

Giraffes, who eat for about twelve hours a day, and who feed during the cool morning and afternoon hours, mainly eat leaves, but they need to eat lots of leaves to obtain their required energy because leaves are low in nutrition. About ninety five percent of the giraffes diet is made up of leaves, but giraffes also eat flowers, pods of seeds, fruit and climbing plants. A male giraffe will eat around 65 kilograms of food a day, while the female eats around 58 kilograms. Giraffes have been found eating in the moonlit hours of night.

Hebrew words as described from the Holy Bible.
â?øä ge^ra^h gay-raw’ From 1641 â?øø ga^rar gaw-rar’ the cud (as scraping the throat): – chewed food, cud. See Strongs 1625

â?øø ga^rar gaw-rar’ Primitive root; to drag off roughly; to bring up the cud ( ruminate ); to saw: – to ruminate, saw, catch, chew, continuing, destroy. See Strongs 1641

The stomache of a giraffe has four chambers. The giraffe chews the food which then passes into a special chamber of the stomache, the food is later pushed back into the giraffes mouth where it is chewed for the second time, after which it is swallowed and passes into the next chamber, where it is ready to be digested.
This type of eating is called “chewing the cud” giraffes chew the cud because leaves are tough and not easy to digest.

A giraffe has to spread its front legs apart and lower its head in order to drink water, and in so doing the giraffe is vulnerable to predators (lions) who generally attack the giraffe when it is drinking. Giraffes take a drink once every two or three days, and have been known to go without water for up to one month.

Giraffes rest during the hottest hours of the day, standing in the shade of large trees the giraffes chew the cud.

Calves are preyed upon by dogs that hunt in packs, leopards, hyenas, and, near water, crocodiles, while adults are preyed upon, by lions. A pride of lions that are working together, are able to bring down a giraffe. One giraffe is enough to supply the pride with food for about two days. Giraffes sometimes get close together when predators are lurking nearby.

Approaching danger.
It is a difficult for a predator to approach a giraffe and her calf in an open area.

Giraffes get nervous when they see predators approaching in the distance, the young giraffe hides behind its mother, and antelopes, who live alongside them are alerted by this behaviour and flee from the approaching danger.

The giraffes head.
The giraffes heavy, and thick skulled head is a weapon, the giraffe uses its head to violently lunge at attacking predators. An adult giraffe can break the back of a leopard with its heavy lunging head.

Giraffe sounds.
Frightened calves bleat, and bulls cough and grunt.

Itchy giraffes.
Giraffes are bothered by ox-pecker birds, ticks, and disease carrying Tsetse flies, the flies pierce their skin, and drink their blood, and drink fluid from their mouths and eyes. The giraffes get itchy and scratch themselves on the branches of trees, the birds hop around on the giraffes neck eating the ticks and flies, and pestering the giraffes as they drink their blood while pecking at their wounds.

Swaying giraffes.
Giraffes sway when walking because they move both legs on one side of their body and then the other two on the other side.

Sleepy giraffes.
Hebrew word as described from the Holy Bible.
øáõ ra^bats pronounced raw-bats’ Primitive root; to crouch (on all four legs folded, like a recumbent animal); to repose, recline, brood, imbed, lurk : – make a fold, crouch (down), fall down, sit, make to rest, (make to, cause to) lie (down), lay. See Strongs 7257

Giraffes sometimes sleep lying down with all of their four legs folded, and their heads curved around and resting on their backs, but they usually sleep as they stand because they are slow at getting up which makes them easy prey for predators. Giraffes sleep for a few hours each night.

Giraffe territory.
Giraffe territory is noted by flat topped trees whose leaves have been eaten up by the giraffes.

The leader of the herd is an adult female with her calf, she is joined by other lonely females and or adult females and their calves. Bulls join the herds for a few days and then they wander off and join male herds.

Farming, poaching, and tourism.
Giraffes are hunted and killed by man for their meat, for their skin, and for the hairs on the end of their tails.
Native peoples hunt giraffes to supply food for their tribes. Some people hunt giraffes for their skin which is used to make sandals, while poachers, simply hunt giraffes for the tufts on the ends of their tails. The poachers then rapidly flee the scene of the crime with the tail and they leave the large dead body behind. The hairs are used to make fly swats, and bracelets for the tourist trade.

The giraffe and the farmer.
Farmers shoot giraffes who knock over fences, and eat their maize, (agricultural crops).

All over the world, giraffes are found in zoos.

National Parks.
Giraffes are found in National Parks such as Lake Nukuru in Kenya, and The Serengetti in Tanzania.

Relatives of the giraffe.
The animal that closely resembles the giraffe and which is a member of the giraffe family is called an okapi. The shy, brown, okapi which has a light colored head and black around its lips, stands about five feet high at the shoulders; its limbs and neck are shorter than the giraffes, and on its rump and legs there are stripes that are similar to the stripes of the zebra. Okapis live in the rainforests of the Congo basin in Central Africa where they are hunted by Pygmies.

The giraffe is a timid African, quadruped (four-legged), hoofed, ruminant, animal (mammal) with brown blotches on its tawny colored skin, and a very long neck that has the same seven neck bones as man. It has a short body and long limbs. The tallest of all animals, it reaches a height of about 5.3 metres. It has large pointed ears, with tufted skin covered appendages. It also has a tufted tail. The giraffe feeds on leaves which it plucks from branches with its long flexible tongue. The giraffe moving swiftly, runs at about 60 kilometres an hour.

Flexible: easily bent, pliable, manageable, adaptable.

Any errors within this page are not intentional.


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