Survival Adaptations of a Giraffe

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Survival Adaptations of a Giraffe
Its long neck helps the giraffe reach the leaves of tall trees. (Anup Shah/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The giraffe is native to the African savannah plains where it has developed a number of physical adaptations. These adaptations are what help the giraffe survive in its natural habitat by helping it to make the most of available food sources and protect itself from predators such as lions and hyenas.

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Height

The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world and can reach a height of 19 feet, according to the National Geographic. The giraffe's height enables it to see predators coming from far away. The animal's height also means that it is more of a challenge for predators to bring down. The giraffe also uses its height to reach the high branches of acacia trees, where it gets most of its food. This gives it an advantage over other grazing animals as it can reach food that other mammals cannot.

Tongue

The giraffe's long tongue enables it to reach leaves even higher in the trees. The tongue is also prehensile, which means it is well-muscled and capable of wrapping itself around branches to grasp them and pull them closer. The giraffe's tongue can grow to a length of 21 inches in length. Gathering as many leaves as possible means that the giraffe only needs to drink water every few days. This is beneficial for the giraffe, which is at its most vulnerable when it bends down to drink at a watering hole.

Legs

The giraffe needs to travel over long distances on a daily basis to search for enough food to sustain itself. The giraffe's long, powerful legs enable it to run at a speed of 10 miles an hour over long distances, or 36 miles an hour over short distances. This means that the animal can cover a large amount of ground in a single day. The giraffe also uses its legs to protect itself and is capable of killing a lion by kicking it with its front hooves.

Eyes

The giraffe has extremely good eyesight, which helps it see predators approaching from a long distance. Because of this other prey animals will often gather close to herds of giraffes, knowing that they will keep a constant look out for danger.

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