How do giraffes communicate?

How do giraffes communicate?

Giraffes are the tallest land animals in existence, reaching up to 20 feet from head to toe, which undoubtedly makes them really striking and easily spotted. They are social, although they generally do not establish very long-lasting bonds with each other, so their groups change constantly, with exchanges among their members. It used to be thought that they were mute and didn’t make any kind of sound. However, like all animals, they communicate and do so through various means. Keep reading this article and find out how you communicate with giraffes.


Animals often have diverse and complex systems of interaction with which they can communicate when they are near or far away. Giraffes are no exception. These artiodactyls use physical or tactile, chemical, visual and auditory means to transmit information, mainly between individuals of the same species.

Physical or tactile communication

It occurs mainly among males in order to gauge strengths, establish group hierarchy, and have the initial privilege of mating with a female. In this sense, males send signals through their body posture. To do this, they walk upright, with their heads fully raised and their legs steady. Thereafter, they perform an act known as petting., which in English means “to kiss”. This can be done in two ways. In one, males only measure their strength by crossing their long necks and exerting pressure against each other. Whoever manages to maintain the strongest position will be the winner. Another option is a really violent confrontation, hitting each other hard, for which they use their ossicones, which are bone structures similar to horns that, due to the hardness and force with which the animal moves its neck, can cause significant effects and serious injuries, damage such as neck fractures or fatal injuries. Sometimes, after confrontation, males can pet each other and remain in the same group for a while without further confrontation.

On the other hand, although men do not participate in the care of young people, they may have some interaction with them, which includes physical communication. The females, in turn, organize and communicate to take care of the small giraffes, as, on numerous occasions, the mothers wander in search of food and water. In these cases, adult women take turns caring for them, producing a communicative interaction.

chemical communication

With regard to chemical forms of communication, giraffes have a well-developed sense of smell, which allows them to perceive smells efficiently. However, they have a peculiarity, because, in order for the male to detect if a female is in heat, he must test her urine. To do this, you can encourage her to urinate if she hasn’t already. Then the man shows the Flehmen Reflex, which consists of the retraction of the lips, so that the vomeronasal organ, highly sensitive to chemical compounds, such as hormones. Once the urine is tested, the male will know the female’s physiological disposition for reproduction and, if positive, will proceed with mounting. Otherwise, you will find another to proceed in the same way.

Visual communication

Giraffes also communicate visually. This is primarily as a preventive mechanism. When they move away from the group, they are alert thanks to the vision they can have of large areas due to their height. If they detect any danger, they warn the herd so that they get ready to launch their main defence mechanism, which consists of giving strong kicks.

auditory communication

Another form of interaction between these animals is through the omission of certain sounds, some of which are audible to people, although they are generally not very frequent. The others are infrasound not noticeable by humans or many other animals.

Do giraffes have vocal cords?

In some studies [1] the vocal cords are not mentioned or described in the anatomy of the mouth of giraffes, which seems to confirm that they do not have them. For this reason and because they are normally not heard making any noise for a long time, the idea that they were mute became widespread. However, this is not true. In fact, they constantly interact through very low-frequency sounds, although they also eventually emit others that are audible.

What sound do giraffes make?

In addition to infrasonic sounds, giraffes, in particular, circumstances, can emit a sort of grunting, moaning, snoring or whistling to communicate. These vocalizations allow you to launch a warning in alert situations. They can do this by emitting a specific grunt or snore. Also, when mothers do not see their puppies, they call to them with audible sounds. The puppies respond, in turn, by making a noise. On the other hand, it has been reported that, during courtship, men can generate a kind of shrill cough from the woman. In short, the different types of communication of giraffes constitute a complex system of interaction that allows them to transmit all kinds of information, especially between members of their species.

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