What is the Tallest Animal?

Young children are often fascinated with questions around size and proportion. For example, our Chief Question Asker is always asking questions such as “What is the biggest insect?”, “How tall were you when you were my age?” and so on. From my own perception it is because kids are fascinated with growing, getting taller, bigger, buying new shoes because feet have got too big for the old ones etc, etc.

So, what is the tallest animal?

To put this question in to context, I want to make it clear, we have decided we are talking about the tallest animal that currently roams our planet – and not the tallest animal that once roamed our planet and is no longer around. If that was the case then perhaps the answer would be Sauroposeidon which was a dinosaur that stood some 18 metres tall!

However, the Giraffe is the tallest animal to roam our planet.

Male giraffes can grow up to 5.5 metres tall, and female giraffes can grow up to 4.3 metres tall. So to put that in to perspective, a little over three male giraffes would need to stand on top of one another to reach the same height as Sauroposeidon!

What about some other cool giraffe facts?

  • Baby giraffes are called calves. When they are born they are already 1.8 metres tall.
  • A baby giraffe can grow as much as 2.5 centimetres a day.
  • For a small period of time some people called the Giraffe a “Camelopard” – can you guess which two animals they mixed together to come up with that name?
  • A giraffes neck contains the same number of vertebrae as a human neck!
  • The hair on a giraffes tail is said to be 10 times thicker than the hair on our head.
  • Giraffe’s have four stomachs – this is known as being a ruminant. This helps them digest their food and draw all nutrients from it.
  • Male giraffes fight by using their necks.
  • A giraffe has to bend down to drink, splaying its legs wide, it is a precarious balancing act, and also one of the most dangerous times for a giraffe as it is open to attack.
  • When a female giraffe gives birth she does so standing up. This means the baby giraffe will come in to the world with a fall of over 1.5 metres! Bump!
  • A giraffe has little hairs on it’s tongue to help it get at the leaves on the trees. It’s tongue is also a dark purply blue colour.

So now we know what the tallest animal is – well at least I thought I did. What do you say when your daughter, upon giving this answer to her, suddenly says to you – “But what if the Giraffe thinks it is a Unicorn? Doesn’t that mean then that the tallest animal on the planet is a Unicorn?”

Anyone got an answer for that?!?!

gud_zyk/istockphotoI am unicorn
cover image – gud_zyk/istockphoto