How Giraffes Drink Water Without Falling Over

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How giraffes drink water without breaking their necks
Giraffes are so tall that they can spot predators from far away, but they also have a hard time drinking water without looking like they’re doing yoga.

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For those in a hurry:

  • Giraffes are the tallest living land animals, reaching up to 6 meters in height.
  • Their long necks help them spot predators from far away, but also pose a challenge when they need to drink water.
  • To drink, giraffes have to spread their front legs and lower their heads, exposing their necks to attacks.
  • They can only drink for a few seconds at a time, and they get most of their water from the plants they eat.
  • Giraffes have special valves in their blood vessels that prevent blood from rushing to their heads when they bend down, and from draining away when they stand up.

Why are giraffes so tall?

Giraffes are the tallest living land animals, reaching up to 6 meters in height. Their long necks account for about half of their height, and allow them to reach the leaves of acacia trees, their favorite food. They can eat up to 45 kilograms of leaves per day, and they have a long tongue that helps them avoid the thorns.

But being tall also has its drawbacks. Giraffes have to cope with high blood pressure, strong winds, and predators. Their long necks help them spot lions, hyenas, and other enemies from far away, but also pose a challenge when they need to drink water.

How do they drink water?

Water is essential for life, but for giraffes, drinking it is not easy. To reach the water, giraffes have to spread their front legs and lower their heads, exposing their necks to attacks. They can only drink for a few seconds at a time, and they have to be alert for any signs of danger. Sometimes, they even have to fight off crocodiles that lurk in the water.

Because of this risk, giraffes do not drink very often. They get most of their water from the plants they eat, and they can go for weeks without drinking in the dry season. They can also store water in their stomachs, which can hold up to 12 liters.

How do giraffes prevent blood from rushing to their heads?

When giraffes bend down to drink, they face another problem: gravity. The blood pressure in their heads would increase dramatically, causing them to faint or even burst a blood vessel. To prevent this, giraffes have special valves in their blood vessels that regulate the flow of blood. These valves close when the giraffe lowers its head, and open when it raises it again.

Giraffes also have thick walls in their arteries and veins that prevent them from collapsing under the pressure. And they have a large heart that pumps blood with enough force to reach the brain. The heart of a giraffe can weigh up to 11 kilograms and beat up to 170 times per minute.

Why do they look like they’re doing yoga?

The posture that giraffes adopt when they drink water is called the “drinking reflex”. It involves spreading the front legs and bending the knees, which reduces the distance between the mouth and the ground. This way, the giraffe does not have to lower its head as much, and can drink more comfortably.

Some people think that this posture looks like yoga, a practice that involves stretching and breathing exercises. Yoga is said to improve health and well-being, but for giraffes, drinking water is more about survival than relaxation. Still, it is impressive how these animals manage to balance their huge bodies on such slender legs.

Giraffes are amazing animals with unique adaptations that allow them to live in harsh environments. They are also gentle and social creatures that live in groups and communicate with each other. The next time you see a giraffe drinking water, you might appreciate how remarkable they are.