When you think of giraffes, the first thing that comes to mind is their long necks. But what would happen if one of these animals needed to vomit and throw up?
Although giraffes have been rarely known to vomit, because of their long necks, it takes them about fifteen minutes to several hours for them to throw up.
The giraffe is a fascinating and majestic animal. The giraffe’s neck, which can be as long as six feet, allows them to reach leaves on high trees and bushes.
Their ability to eat leaves off these tall plants gives them access to nutrients and water—a necessity in the desert-like climate where they live.
Having such a long neck has its benefits, but also some drawbacks.
In this article, we’re going to dive deeper into the eventuality of what would happen if a giraffe needs to throw up. Let’s start with the anatomy.
How long is a giraffe’s neck?
A giraffe’s neck can be up to six or seven feet long. Along with an extraordinarily long tongue, this allows them to reach the tops of trees and eat leaves from branches 15 feet high.
Surprisingly, giraffes and humans both have only seven cervical vertebrae (neck vertebrae), but unlike us humans, their vertebrae can be up to 10 inches long (25cm).
Giraffes have always been a fascinating example of how amazing evolution is. The ancestors of modern giraffes had to compete for food, and those giraffes with longer necks could reach more food, therefore were able to thrive and reproduce.
In addition to foraging for food, the giraffe’s neck serves another purpose: fighting.
A study published on science.org reports that prehistoric giraffe ancestors had a helmet-like skull and bulky neck vertebrae. These were used to deliver skull-cracking collisions to rivals and woo mates.
Giraffes are ruminants
One of the first things you should know when talking about regurgitating giraffes is that they are ruminants. These are even-toed mammals that chew ‘cud’ regurgitated from their rumen.
This is a family that sheep, deer, cattle, and giraffes belong to.
This family of mammals is known to regurgitate their food from a central part of their stomach, in which the rumen makes its way back up to the mammal’s mouth so they can chew it more. This helps their digestive process. It is natural for food to make its way back up to the giraffe’s mouth.
This is true for both food and water for giraffes.
When food is transported between stomach chambers to the mouth through the esophagus it can cause a choking danger. Food and water can get stuck, which may cause choking, and vomiting to remove the obstruction.
That being said, giraffes have been known to die from choking, as vomiting is far more complicated for them than it is for humans.
Do giraffes throw up?
The short answer is yes, they do. But there’s more to the story than that.
As alluded to, a giraffe’s stomach is much like that of a cow. When humans throw up, the vomit comes directly from their stomach, through their esophagus, and out of their mouth.
When giraffes vomit, it comes out of their fourth stomach, passes through their third stomach, and passes through their second stomach, before eventually going through their first stomach.
If the vomit happens to reach their first stomach, they will likely vomit.
How often do giraffes throw up?
They can and will vomit if they eat something bad or foreign that upsets their stomachs, but it’s not as common as you might think—giraffes can keep eating food until they’re full and have a full stomach, which is why most people don’t know much about them throwing up.
Even when they do vomit, it’s usually just a tiny amount of liquid before returning to normal eating habits (and maybe a few extra looks around for any predators).
How Long Does it Take a Giraffe to Throw Up?
Since giraffes have incredibly long necks, it can take much longer for them to throw up than humans. It takes a giraffe about 15 minutes at a minimum to throw up. It could even take several hours for them to vomit.
This would entirely depend on the size of the giraffe and the amount of food and water they had consumed.
Why does this happen?
The most common reason for a giraffe throwing up would be because of some sort of food poisoning or sickness caused by bacteria in their digestive system rather than anything physical inside the animal itself.
As mentioned, giraffes throw up very rarely though.
Final thoughts on giraffes throwing up
Giraffes are ruminants, which means they have a four-chambered stomach. When they eat something that doesn’t agree with them, they may vomit, but it’s not as common as you might think.
It can take a giraffe up to 15 minutes to throw up and it could even take several hours for them to vomit depending on the size of the giraffe and the amount of food and water it had consumed.