Giraffes are ungulates with an even number of toes, two on each foot. They are ruminants, which means that they have stomachs with multiple chambers (four), which allows them to chew, digest, regurgitate and chew their food some more. The obvious features of giraffes are their long necks and legs. They are the tallest land animal, an adaptation that allows them to reach food that other animals cannot. Compared with other ruminants, giraffes have “ossicones” on their heads. Ossicones have a bony core covered with skin. Both the core and the skin covering are permanent, never shed.
Their Family Giraffidae includes four recognized species of giraffes: the northern, the southern, the Masai, and the reticulated. Rothchild’s giraffes are a subspecies of the northern giraffes. The different patterns of their spots characterize the giraffes. Masai giraffes have very irregular spots. The northern giraffes have very regular spots which do not extend all the way down their legs. They also have 5 ossicones, whereas the other species have 4. The southern giraffes have solid spots with some odd angles. The reticulated (or Somali) giraffes have much thinner spaces between their spots than the others. The giraffe Family also includes one other relative, the okapi, which has a much shorter neck and lives in the forest.