How Do Giraffes Mate and Reproduce?

Photo: Sadie Hart / Flickr
Photo: Sadie Hart / Flickr

When giraffes reproduce, the dominant male in a herd mates with females during their estrus cycles. Breeding cycles can occur at any time of the year.

An estrus cycle lasts for around 15 days. When a female is in her estrus cycle, she can sometimes attract solitary male giraffes, which sense the hormones in her urine using the flehmen response. However, the herd’s dominant male usually prevents other males from mating with females in his herd.

When a male giraffe mates with a female, he rests his chin on her back or uses his forelegs to tap on her hind leg, signaling that he is ready to mate. When she is ready, she allows him to mate with her.

The gestation period of calves is around 15 months. Females leave the herd to give birth to their calves alone. They usually return to the same place where they were born to give birth. Females usually spend around one week alone with their calves before rejoining the herd with their calves.