Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Can Giraffes Vomit?

Can giraffes throw up?  If so, how long does it take?

A quick internet search will reveal that this is a question that numerous people can ask, but few can answer.  One of the main problems is that giraffes are very picky eaters; they take leaves one-by-one and taste them thoroughly before sending them down the neck.  Therefore, they have little reason to vomit.  That being said, they do have the physical apparatus necessary to vomit.

Giraffes are ungulates, and so they have to regurgitate their cud to re-chew it.  Ungulates do vomit occasionally, but since they have four stomachs it is most common for them to vomit from one stomach into another one.  It is much rarer for them to expel food from their first stomach into the open air for us all to enjoy.  It does happen occasionally that a deer or a cow has to spew regurgitated food out of their mouths, but this has not been observed in giraffes.  If a giraffe did have to get rid of nasty food that way, it could simply use peristalsis and hack up food and spit it out.  Since a giraffe's stomach ferments food instead of breaking it down with acid, the result would not be repulsive vomit like people spew out, but more like a chunky mass of fermented leaves and grasses.  Quite pleasant, actually.  By comparison, I mean.  Also, it would not spray forth like our puke, because the giraffe does not have the muscles necessary to violently expel their vomit like that.  There are a lot of positive perks to being a giraffe, but having the ability to spew a glorious rainbow of regurgitated food onto the heads of the members of the more altitude-challenged species is not one of them.  Sorry.

How long would it take?  Not very long at all.  If you have the time, it is possible to watch riveting videos of giraffes hacking up their food.  The cud comes up in a big wad, so you can watch it travel up the neck into the mouth.  Even with their enormous necks, the process takes between 1 1/2 seconds to about 3 seconds.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy you answered my question! So basically, giraffes CAN throw up, they just never do/never need to?