The Reticulated Giraffe or Somali Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), is a subspecies of giraffe native to Somalia, however, it is also widely found in Northern Kenya. Reticulated giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if populations are low in the wild.
The Reticulated giraffe is the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies and is by far the giraffe most commonly seen in zoos.
Reticulated Giraffe Characteristics
The Reticulated Giraffes coat consists of large, polygonal liver-coloured spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. The blocks may sometimes appear deep red and may also cover the legs.
Male Reticulated Giraffes reach a towering 18 feet tall and weigh between 2400 and 4250 pounds. Female Reticulated Giraffes measure up to 17 feet tall and weigh between 1540 and 2600 pounds. A lot of this height and weight is because of the giraffes incredibly long neck, which can be 8 feet in length and can weigh almost 500 pounds.
Even though the Reticulated Giraffes neck is taller than most humans are, it is still made of only 7 bones. This is the same number of bones that are in the human neck. On the top of their heads, Reticulated Giraffes have horns made of solid bone and covered with skin. These are used for sparring between males.
Reticulated Giraffes are also fast and are able to gallop up to 56 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour). Mothers aggressively defend their calves, kicking out with their feet at the approach of lions or hyenas.
Reticulated Giraffe Diet
The extraordinary height of the Reticulated Giraffe allows them to browse on branches of trees that other hoofed animals cannot reach. This has helped make the Reticulated Giraffe one of the most successful animals of the African savannah. The Reticulated Giraffe feeds mainly on Acacia and Combretum trees, however, it will eat as many as 100 different plants depending on which are available at the time.
Since Reticulated Giraffes have such long necks, they can reach a 6 foot band of foliage that is above the reach of all other animals except the elephant. The Reticulated Giraffe will use its upper lip and long tongue to strip the leaves, shoots, flowers and vines from the trees. The Reticulated Giraffe needs 75 pounds per day of vegetation. However, it only drinks water every 2 to 3 days when it is available and can go for weeks without drinking any water at all.
The Reticulated Giraffe gets a large amount of water from the dew on the leaves and from the water in the leaves. When it encounters a watering hole, it will drink up to 12 gallons at one time.
Reticulated Giraffe Reproduction
A Giraffes gestation period lasts between 14 and 15 months, after which a single calf is born. The mother gives birth standing up and the embryonic sack usually bursts when the baby falls to the ground. Newborn giraffes are about 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall. Calves are able to run around after only a few hours although for the first 2 weeks of their lives, they generally lie down with their mother guarding them as they can easily become prey to lions, hyenas and leopards. Only between 25 – 50% of calves reach adulthood. If calves do survive, they can have a life span of up to 25 years.
Reticulated Giraffe Subspecies
The Reticulated or Somali Giraffe (G.c. reticulata) is one of nine subspecies in the giraffe family, which includes:
Reticulated or Somali Giraffe (G.c. reticulata)
Masai or Kilimanjaro Giraffe (G.c. tippelskirchi)
Angolan or Smoky Giraffe (G.c. angolensis)
Kordofan Giraffe (G.c. antiquorum)
Nubian Giraffe (G.c. camelopardalis)
Rothschild Giraffe or Baringo Giraffe or Ugandan Giraffe (G.c. rothschildi)
South African Giraffe (G.c. giraffa)
Thornicroft or Rhodesian Giraffe (G.c. thornicrofti)
West African or Nigerian Giraffe