Giraffes are some of the most iconic animals on the African plains. These land mammals are easily distinguishable by their spotted coats and graceful movements. However, their defining feature is their sheer height.
Giraffes are so tall and so majestic that many people think we might have gotten it wrong to not include them in the Big Five. But just how tall is the mighty giraffe?
Read below for more information on a giraffe’s height, with plenty of fun facts in between.
More About Giraffes
The giraffe is a large hoofed mammal in the genus Giraffa, noted for its long necks and equally tall and spindly legs.
All giraffes initially belonged in one species – Giraffa camelopardalis – which consisted of nine subspecies. However, recent studies have uncovered significant genetic and phenotypic variances between several members of the Giraffa camelopardalis species. As a result, scientists have proposed subdividing the single species into eight distinct species.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Subkingdom: Bilateria
- Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
- Superclass: Tetrapoda
- Class: Mammalia
- Subclass: Theria
- Infraclass: Eutheria
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Giraffidae
- Genus: Giraffa
- Species: Giraffa camelopardalis (the northern giraffe) with three subspecies, namely Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardlis (the Nubian giraffe), Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum (the Kordofan giraffe), and Giraffa camelopardalis peralta, (the West African giraffe). Giraffa giraffa (the southern giraffe) with two subspecies, namely Giraffa giraffa giraffa (the South African giraffe) and Giraffa giraffe angolensis (the Angolan giraffe), Giraffa tippelskirchi (the Masai giraffe), Giraffe reticulate (the reticulate giraffe or the Somali giraffe)
PLUS OTHER RECENTLY ISOLATED SPECIES
How Tall Are Giraffes?
The average height of giraffes is 14 feet (4.3 meters) – 18 feet (5.5 meters).
Like most animals, male giraffes tend to be larger than their female counterparts. That also makes them taller.
An adult male giraffe can grow up to 20 feet tall, roughly 5 feet taller than most adult females.
Male giraffes also outshine females in sheer weight. An adult male giraffe can weigh up to 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) while adult females will weigh half as much.
Is Giraffe The Tallest Animal On Earth?
It’s common knowledge that giraffes are the tallest living animal on the planet. But that’s not their only claim to fame. These mammals also hold the record for the largest ruminant on earth.
Now, many publications cite giraffes for being the tallest TERRESTRIAL animal. That might get you wondering if these behemoths are rivaled by any aquatic or arboreal dwellers. And you’d be right.
Giraffes may be the tallest land animal. But the title for the tallest animal overall goes to the blue whale.
Besides being the largest animal on land and sea, the blue whale is also incredibly tall. These sea giants can reach a height of 30 feet. That’s more than twice the average height of a female giraffe.
What Makes A Giraffe So Tall?
A giraffe’s neck and legs are the main reasons behind the mammal’s towering height.
The neck of a mature giraffe measures 6 feet (1.8 meters) while their legs are also usually 6 feet tall.
What Is The Tallest Giraffe That Ever Lived?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Forest holds the record for the tallest giraffe ever recorded.
Forest is a male giraffe living in an Australian zoo. His last documented height was 18.8 feet or 5.7 meters.
Are All Giraffes The Same Height?
We’ve just indicated that giraffes differ in height depending on gender, whereby males tend to be taller than females.
Many other factors can determine the height variances among members of the giraffe population. Some of those aspects include;
Adult giraffes are expectedly taller than giraffe calves. In fact, when discussing the giraffe’s sheer height, the estimates are typically based on mature giraffes.
However, there might also be significant height differences among adult giraffes.
For instance, giraffes in their prime years will stand taller than those in their sunset years. That’s because a giraffe’s bones, like that of most animals, shrinks with age. That consequently diminishes their size.
Height is among the top factors that scientists use in grouping giraffes into their distinct species. So, it’s not surprising that there are significant height differences across the various giraffe species.
Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi or the Masai giraffe is the tallest giraffe species. These behemoths can grow up to 20 feet. And true to their name, the Masai giraffe is native to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
Giraffe reticulate, or the reticulate giraffe, is the shortest giraffe species. Male and female reticulates grow up to around 15 feet and 12 feet, respectively. The reticulate giraffe is also native to eastern Africa. But its population is widespread along the Horn of Africa, which explains its other common name – the Somali giraffe.
Interestingly, the shortest giraffe species is still taller than any existing land animal. The only terrestrial animal that rivals the giraffe in height is the elephant, which typically measures 10 – 13 feet in height. Therefore, you’re likely to sight a giraffe on the African plains before sighting an elephant.
A giraffe’s habitat also plays an instrumental role in determining how tall the animal can grow.
Giraffes in captivity tend to grow bigger and taller than their wild counterparts. That’s because captive giraffes have higher access to quality food and better medical care.
Humans may be the most intelligent species. But it’s interesting to know that we share this world with other species that outshine us in speed (the cheetah), ferocity (the lion), eyesight (the eagle), and height (the giraffe).