Did you know that giraffes are already taller than most adult humans from the moment they are born? Or that they are born from a standing position, making the first thing they ever experience a free fall? In this post, you will learn about how giraffes are born, how the calves behave, and what they look like right after birth.
Giraffe calves are born from a standing position, making the first thing they experience a free fall of about 6.5 feet (2 meters). Female giraffes often give birth together since it is much safer than giving birth alone and since they can help each other take care of the calves.
Keep reading to learn much more fascinating information about the first period of a giraffe calf’s life. Did you for instance know that giraffe calves spend a large amount of their time in a type of giraffe kindergarten?
How Are Giraffes Born?
Giraffes are so tall that when they are laying on the ground, it takes them a while to stand up properly. This makes them very vulnerable to hungry predators and because of this, they do almost everything from a standing position including eating, drinking, sleeping, and even giving birth.
Since giraffes are vulnerable to attacks from predators when they are laying down, they give birth from a standing position, making the first thing a newborn giraffe calf experiences a freefall of about 6.5 feet (2 meters).
Their bones must be extremely strong because the newborn giraffe calves do not break anything from the free fall. In fact, they usually take their first steps within just 5-10 minutes of being born. They are, of course, extremely insecure and clumsy when they are this young but they begin practicing standing, walking, and even running right away and become much more stable and agile very quickly.
Very young giraffe calves are extremely focused on learning these basic but vital motor skills and when they have become somewhat confident in walking and running, they will start to direct all their concentration towards playing around and exploring the world.
Having all of their focus directed towards exploring and playing can be exciting but it can also be extremely dangerous for the young calves who unfortunately often end up as prey for lions, leopards, crocodiles, or hyenas. In fact, the mortality rate for giraffe calves exceeds 50% in most regions of Africa.
Female giraffes will often find a suitable place to give birth together. Giving birth to calves together increases the safety and the survival rate of the calves since it is much more dangerous for predators to go after a group of giraffes than a single female giraffe with a calf.
Giving birth to calves together in this way also allows the female giraffes to help each other out a great deal.
When they are just a week old, the giraffe calves will start hanging out and playing with other calves. They will often stay together in groups of up to 10 calves and these groups are supervised by one or a few adult females while the rest of the females focus on eating. After a while, they switch so that they all get to eat and they all also participate in taking care of the calves.
For around the first 4-6 months of a giraffe calf’s life, it drinks the milk from its mother but will then start to eat fresh shoots, leaves, and other fresh plants.
How do Newborn Giraffes Look?
Female giraffes have a gestation period of 14-16 months after which they give birth to a single calf.
A giraffe calf weighs 110-220 pounds (50-100 kg) at birth and already measures around 6.5 feet (2 meters) in height and they grow very fast. After the first year of a giraffe calf’s life, it will already have grown by over 3 feet (around 1 meter).
Both male and female giraffes have horns on their forehead which are used for combat and self-defense. They already have these horns from the moment they are born but at this age, the horns are small and soft but over time, they will become hard and grown and spread until the bone-like base of the horns forms a type of helmet that protects the giraffe’s skull. Not only is this great for defense but it also makes their heads heavier, allowing them to hit harder when they attack since they use their heads to hit enemies.
Giraffe calves are also born with their characteristic, long necks but compared to the adults, their necks do not account for as much of their height, proportionate to their bodies.