Giraffe Facts for Kids

Updated July 20, 2017

From their incredibly long necks to their spotted coats, giraffes are an amazing part of nature. They are known mostly for being the tallest animal in the world. While their height certainly is their most recognisable characteristic, giraffes possess a few other interesting features as well.


Giraffes roam freely on the African plains and forests. Their long necks are the perfect tool for eating leaves high up on the acacia tree, their usual meal. Giraffes can go a very long time without drinking water, up to many weeks. This is because they get a lot of the water they need from the moisture in the leaves they eat. They are social animals and are not territorial. Giraffes travel in large herds and generally sleep standing up.

Physical Characteristics

Giraffes have small horns on their heads that grow to 5 inches and are used to protect them in fights. Males can grow to be 19 feet tall and weigh up to 1361 Kilogram. Females only grow up to 16 feet tall and weigh up to 1179 Kilogram. Their tongues can be up to 21 inches long, and can grab and hold onto objects. Some of the sounds a giraffe makes are called infrasound, which cannot be heard by humans.


Female giraffes give birth to their young calves after 15 months. In the first week of their lives, they are so vulnerable that the mother must protect them constantly. Many giraffe calves are killed by predators in their first year of life, but if they make it, giraffes can live a full lifespan of about 25 years. Adult giraffes are less challenged, even by lions, due to their great height.

Predators of Giraffes

Lions, hyenas and wild dogs remain the only furred predators of the giraffe. Humans also are known to hunt them for their meat, their unusual coats, and their tails. The tails are used to make good luck bracelets and fly swatters. Giraffes are not helpless prey in the wild, however. They have excellent vision and can spot predators at a good distance. They are reasonably fast, able to run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The long front legs also are powerful and a kick from them could end a predator's life.

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About the Author

James Parducci has written professionally since 2001. He is a columnist for “Comic Box” and has been published in “San Diego Mission Valley News” and the “San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Book.” Parducci also wrote the limited comic series “Nighthunter.” He is currently pursuing a B.A. at the University of Maryland University College where he majors in English and is on the dean's list.