How Do Giraffes Mate?

By Rose Kivi
How Do Giraffes Mate?
Credit: Jennifer.W.Blonk - Copyright: morguefile.com/cimeries

Female giraffes in estrus

Giraffes don't have a particular mating season. Female giraffes go into estrus every two weeks throughout the year. When a female is in estrus, she excretes pheromones that let the males know that she is ready to mate. Male giraffes wander around in search of females in estrus with which to mate.

Finding a mate

When a male giraffe finds a female giraffe in estrus, he nudges her rear end with his nose to encourage her to release urine. When the female releases urine, the male tastes the urine to see if she is in estrus and ready to mate. A female giraffe will release larger amounts of urine for a male giraffe that she particularly likes. When a male giraffe determines that a female giraffe is ready to mate, he follows the female around until she decides to mate with him. Occasionally the male will try to mount the female in an attempt to mate. If the female has not decided to mate with the male yet, she will casually walk away so that the male can not mate with her. The male may follow the female and repeatedly try to mount her for hours or days. The female ignores the male until she decides to mate with him. Sometimes the female never mates with the male and instead chooses a different male to mate with. If a female giraffe sees a male giraffe that she wishes to mate with, she often goes up to the male and rubs her neck on his. Female giraffes generally choose to mate with the most dominant giraffe available. The most likely reason for this is to establish a strong gene pool in her young.

Mating

When the female giraffe decides to allow the male giraffe to mate with her, she stops walking and stands still to let the male mount her. The male giraffe mounts the female giraffe from the behind and mates with her. The mating process is very quick and is rarely observed by humans.

Pregnancy

If the female giraffe successfully becomes pregnant, she will remain so for approximately 14 1/2 months. The female giraffe gives birth to her baby standing up. Because giraffes are so tall, the baby giraffe's first experience is a fall to the ground after leaving its mother's womb. The baby giraffe quickly recovers from its fall and is up and walking around within an hour. After mating the male giraffe leaves, and the female giraffe raises her young without him.