Somali Giraffe

Somali Giraffe

Somali Giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata


The Somali Giraffe is the one most often found in zoos around the world so chances are you have seen one of them up close. They have a coat with very large spots that often remind people of the color and the shape of the liver. Between each of the spots are lines which can be white or cream in color. With this particular species, the coloring even extends down the legs, and can be a darker shade of brown or even red than the rest of the body.

Somali Giraffe Anatomy

The body design of this particular species of giraffe isn’t much different from any others you will see out there. They are slightly smaller in height and in weight but you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you were very familiar with other species of giraffes. They can move at a pace of 35 miles per hour when they gallop.

The anatomy of the giraffe is really amazing when you consider they have a heart that weighs about 25 pounds, four chambers to the stomach, and valves that turn off the flow of blood to their necks when they bend down. They also have a neck that can weigh more than 500 pounds but only 7 vertebrae in it. They are remarkable animals in design when you take each element into consideration.

Somali Giraffe Evolution

This particular species of giraffe is believed to have evolved million years ago into its own species. However, it is believed that they are very closely related to some species that may have become extinct more than 20 million years ago. They are related to deer and cows and okapis and have a history that goes back very far in time with links to both of them as well.

Darwin is the one with the theory about evolution being responsible for the growing necks of these giraffes. Yet others believe it could be that the neck size and power developed in order to help with making them more attractive for mating. We don’t know for sure what occurred so long ago but maybe we will have such answers some day.

Somali Giraffe characteristics

Somali Giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata

Somali Giraffe Behavior

They are often seen with birds sitting on them backs close to the tails. This can be an amazing view but there is a reason for it. These birds help to take care of the problem with flies that even the thick tails of the giraffe can’t fully contain. They also eat mites and other types of parasites from the skin of these giraffes and that helps to keep them healthy.

They live in small herds that move around frequently and at a steady pace in order to find food sources. The females tend to stick to themselves in a group with the males only interacting with them when they would like to take part in mating. What is interesting though is that the structure of their herds can change frequently.

Some have been noted to be well balanced with males and females. Others are all male or all female for periods of time. This is very different behavior than other species of giraffes. Even though it has been observed in detail, it isn’t understood what triggers such changes or what the underlying purpose of it happens to be.

They give off a strong odor that permeates through their home range. They aren’t as welcoming of other herds of giraffes being in the same location. However, they don’t seem to care of other animals that won’t be competing for the same food sources are around.

Somali Giraffe Habitat and Distribution

The primary location where you can find the Somali Giraffe is in Somalia which is where their name comes from. There are two other areas out there where they are found as well. This includes the Northern part of Kenya as well as the Southern portion of Ethiopia.

Somali Giraffe Diet

Almost all of the Somali Giraffes feed on leaves, twigs, and bark from trees just like all other species. However, they have occasionally been documented consuming the remains of antelope and other animals that have been killed by predators in the wild. This is a very puzzling fact that investigators are still trying to understand. In the areas where this has taken place, there are ample vegetarian food sources around for them to consume.

The acacia makes up most of the diet for these giraffes. Other animals can’t consume them due to the thorns on them. Yet all giraffes have very thick lips and tongues so they can consume them without any problems at all. They will eat up to 75 pounds of food a day and spend many hours a day eating.

During the very dry season they may consume nothing but pine needles for survival. They don’t need to drink very much water but often consume some of it every three to four days. In the wet season they can go weeks without water due to so much being in the food they consume.

Amazing facts about Reticulated giraffes

Fight of two reticulated giraffes in Samburu National Reserve.

Somali Giraffe Reproduction

Mating often begins for the females at about five years of age. The males are ready to mate about eight years of age. However, it could end up being much later than that before they are able to successfully be strong enough in the battles against other males to be able to win that right.

The gestation period is from 15 to 16 months. These giraffes can mate any time of year but most of it occurs during the rainy season when food is plentiful. The mother will keep her young from the rest of the herd for about a month so that it can get the rest it needs. After that they may work as a team with other females to care for the young and to protect them.

The mothers are very aggressive when it comes to protecting their offspring. They are excellent caregivers but due to their own need to feed constantly it can be harder for them to keep a good eye on the young. They need to eat more than normal so that they can also create enough milk to nourish their young from their own body.

The Somali Giraffe is known to mate with other species both in the wild and in captivity. These offspring seem to be very healthy but many experts worry about how this process will negatively impact the gene pool of each species in the future.


Adult giraffes very seldom have problems with predators. They have a keen sense of smell and can see for miles away. They are aware of danger often before it can become a serious threat to them. The powerful size of an adult Somali Giraffe isn’t something most predators want to go up against.

It is the young offspring though that are often victims of lions, leopards, and other such predators. The mortality rate in the first year of life is more than 50% for those in the wild. Sometimes injured or sick adults become prey for them as well. Crocodiles can be a problem for these animals when they are getting a drink of water.

Poaching is a serious problem for this species of giraffe. Many of the villages around their habitat are very poor so they hunt these animals for large amounts of meat. Hunters from other locations come to the area to hunt for an exotic animal that they will keep as a trophy.