How do Giraffes Reproduce?

Giraffe being born.jpgGiraffe reproduction is largely polygamous with a few dominant males wanting to mate with the fertile females.

Giraffe Reproduction Facts

The breeding season in giraffes can occur at any time during the year. The mating season tends to peak around the dry season at which time female giraffes are able to conceive when they turn around five years old.

Giraffes have a gestation period of 15 months, which means female giraffes give birth to a calf about 15 months after mating with the male giraffe. As giraffes are non-territorial, any male giraffe can mate with receptive female giraffes, but there is a process of ritual combat between the male giraffes to win over the female giraffe.

The Birth of a Giraffe

The birthing process of a giraffe is dramatic, with the mother giraffe standing on her wobbly legs and the calf tumbling onto the ground. Usually a single calf is born, although twins occur on rare occasions.

At the time of birth, a baby giraffe weighs around 110 to 220 pounds and they are around five to seven feet tall. Immediately after the birth, the newborn giraffe is able to stand in about five to twenty minutes and it starts to feed off its mother in an hour. At the time of the birth, the baby giraffe has horns, which appear to be small bumps of cartilage not attached to the skull.

After the Birth

Giraffe calves grow about three centimeters taller each day during the first week after their birth. They almost double their height in their first year. Giraffe calves are weaned at one year old, and by the age of 15 months, they become fully independent.