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Reticulated Giraffe

A subspecies of the giraffe

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Giraffidae

Genus & Species: Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata


The reticulated giraffe is smaller than the other giraffe subspecies, with the males being 12-15 ft tall and the females being 14 ft tall. The legs are long, with the forelegs being slightly longer than the hindlegs. The neck is also very long and contains seven vertebrae, each 11 in. long. Special valves located in the neck arteries help control the blood flow to the head. The males weigh 1700-4200 lbs, the females 1200-2500 lbs. Both males and females have horns, although the females' are slightly smaller. The coat consists of tan to deep brown polygons separated by white rather than brown lines. The coat darkens with age. The hide is thick and the tail is tufted and used as a fly swatter. The tongue is 18 in. long.

Reticulated giraffes have excellent hearing and smell and can run up to 30 mph if in danger. The voice box is large, yet they rarely communicate vocally. The calves bleat and the older giraffes grunt and snort. Reticulated giraffes have a life span of 25 years in the wild, 28 years in captivity.


Reticulated giraffes are found in the open woodlands and wooded grasslands of northeastern Kenya, eastern Sudan, and Eritrea in Africa.


Reticulated giraffes, like all giraffes, are ruminants with a four-chambered stomach allowing them to regurgitate and chew their cud. They feed mainly on acacia and combretum species in the wild, as well as flowers, fruits, herbs, seeds and vines. They have been known to eat weaver- bird nests with the young inside. They also chew on bones. Approximately 18 hours of the day is spent on eating. In the zoo they are fed alfalfa hay and grains. Reticulated giraffes can go for weeks without water, obtaining it from dew and their food.


Sexual maturity is reached at 3.5 years for the males, although they usually don't mate until 8 years, and 5 years for the females. The gestation period is 15 months with one calf born. Twins are rare. There is no mating season. A birth site is used continuously for generations. The females give birth standing; the young drop 6 ft to the ground. The calves weigh 100-150 lbs at birth and are 6 ft tall. They are born with the ossicorns (horns) lying flat on their head; they pop upright a week later. Females give birth to a new calf every two years.


Calves are eaten by leopards, hyaenas, and African wild dogs. Mature giraffes can be killed by lions and other predators only when lying down, sick, or sleeping against a tree that contains a lion. They are hunted by poachers to be turned into fly swatters, bracelets, bags and buckets for the tourist trade. They are not considered to be endangered.


The reticulated giraffe is one of nine subspecies of the giraffe and is related to the okapi.