Q:

Why do giraffes have horns?

A:

Quick Answer

Giraffes have horns because they are used as weapons during inter-species conflicts. Male giraffes battle with other males for access to resources, such as food, water or mates. While both genders possess the horns, the horns of males lack the tufts of fur that female horns bear. This is because the fur and skin are worn off the male’s horns as they battle with other males.

Know More
Why do giraffes have horns?
Credit: Eden_Images E+ Getty Images

Full Answer

During battles, male giraffes swing their heads at each other, trying to get their opponent to yield and flee the area. The horns of giraffes are technically called ossicones. Ossicones begin as cartilaginous structures, however, over time, the cartilage is replaced by bone, and the horns become very hard and solid. The males of some giraffe subspecies grow a second set of ossicones directly behind the first.

Giraffes are the tallest living land animals, and some of the largest specimens reach nearly 20 feet in height. Giraffes have evolved long necks to see predators from a great distance and to reach their favorite food sources. Giraffes consume a wide variety of plant species, but the favorite food for giraffes is the young, tender leaves in the crowns of acacia trees. Giraffes need very large and powerful hearts to pump blood all the way up their necks and into their brains.

Learn more in Giraffes

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How long do giraffes live?

    A:

    Giraffes can live as long as 25 years on the open grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa and up to 30 years in captivity. However, infant mortality is high among giraffes. Approximately 50 percent of giraffe calves do not survive past six months.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do giraffes communicate?

    A:

    Giraffes primarily communicate with each other using infrasonic sounds and vibrations, much like dolphins and some whales. Although giraffes are among the tallest mammals on the planet, they are some of the most silent. Giraffes rarely utter vocal sounds, although they occasionally interact with each other via grunts or high-pitched whistle-like cries.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long do giraffes sleep?

    A:

    Giraffes only sleep about 30 minutes during a 24-hour period. They tend to sleep in small, 5-minute increments to maintain their safety.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What color are giraffes?

    A:

    Giraffe coat colors vary from light tan to nearly black. As of 2014, there are nine definite subspecies of the giraffe that differ in habitat and lifestyle, which accounts for their varying colorations. The markings on one subspecies of giraffe, the Thornicroft, may darken with age.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore