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Basic Information

A giraffe is a tall and spindly herbivorous mammal with an extremely long neck. Their height and length allow them to eat leaves from branches above those reachable by many of the animals they share habitat with. They stand 16 to 20 feet (5 to 6 meters) tall, and adult males weigh more than a ton.

The tongue of a giraffe is 18 to 20 inches (50 cm) long, and prehensile. They use these muscular tongues to strip the leaves off a branch. I got to feed one at a zoo once, and they can grab the whole branch right out of your hand with their tongue if you don't hold on tight.

Giraffes have two horn-like structures on their heads called ossicones. Males use these lumps of cartilage and bone to fight with each other. Ossicones are also likely to help the animal regulate the temperature of its head.

They can run at a sustained speed over 30 mph for more than a mile (50 kph for several kilometers). Giraffe skin is quite tough, and they can run right through a thorn bush if need be.



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