The tallest land animal, the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) reaches adult heights ranging from 13 to 19 feet. Its natural habitat is the African savannas south of the Sahara Desert.
Giraffes eat a variety of leaves, shoots, vines, flowers, and herbs from more than one hundred plants but prefer the leaves of the acacia tree. Giraffes get most of their water from their food.
Giraffes spend up to 16 or even 20 hours per day feeding and can eat up to 145 pounds of food a day.
Giraffes have long, muscular tongues, which can reach a length of 18 inches. Their tongues are dark colored, an adaptation thought to prevent sunburn. Thick saliva and tough lips help giraffes eat thorns, such as those of the acacia, without getting hurt.
Giraffes are ruminants, which means they regurgitate their food after partial digestion and chew it further. Giraffes have four compartments in their stomachs.
The seeds of some acacia tree species cannot germinate unless they have passed through a giraffe's digestive system.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Doug Wheller
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