Four things you should know about giraffes


Giraffes live in savannas, grasslands or open woodlands.  They are found all over Africa from Chad in the north to South Africa, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east.


The giraffe has a long neck and long legs and is the world’s tallest living land animal.  An adult male can grow to around 5.5m – that’s taller than three adult humans.  The giraffe’s height gives them an advantage when it comes to eating as they can reach the leaves on the tallest trees which other animals cannot get to.  A giraffe’s tongue is very tough, so it can eat thorns as well.

Giraffes don’t need to hide from predators.  Their brown patterned skin is an amazing example of camouflage which allows giraffes to be mistaken for savanna trees or shrubs instead of prey. Their height, along with excellent eyesight means they can see predators from a great distance and take action to avoid them.  Giraffes can also run very fast—around 35 miles (56 kilometres) per hour for short distances.


Giraffes are social animals that live in herds of 10 to 20 individuals.  The members of a herd change over time.   Mothers form what is called a nursery group where they help each other care for the young giraffes. Young males that are old enough to look after themselves form bachelor herds. They like to have playfights with each other, to try to find out who is the strongest.  They do this by neck wrestling which is a bit like human arm wrestling.


Giraffes are herbivores and eat a plant-based diet.  Their favourite food is the acacia tree but they will sometimes eat grasses, fruits and vegetables.  They spend around 18 hours a day finding food and can eat up to 45kg of leaves and twigs a day.  Giraffes can go for long periods without water. They get most of their water from the leaves they eat but when they do drink from a water hole they can drink up to 55 litres of water in one go.

Play the audio clip to hear a giraffe eating.

What next?

  • You could find out more fantastic facts about giant giraffes.  Did you know they sleep standing up?  What else can you find out?