Are Horses and Giraffes Related? 7 Interesting Facts You Should Know

With the enchanting beauty that horses possess, have you ever wondered what other animals are they related with?

Though animals may look way different from each other, they can be part of a similar family. They can be related to each other as they possess specific characteristics that you might not easily recognize.

What do you think of giraffes? Do they somehow look like horses? Do you think they are related?

Are Horses And Giraffes Related?

Yes. Horses and giraffes are somewhat related to each other since they came from groups of ungulates.

Have you noticed that the majority of the herbivores or those animals eating plants have hooves?

Hooves are the hard and thick case covering the tip of the toes of the animals’ feet.

Mammals with hooves are termed “ungulates”. In ancient history, all of these hoofed mammals are members of only one family which is called Ungulata.

As time passed by, however, some researches revealed that ungulates should not only belong in one family. And so, the mammals are divided into two groups based on their anatomical components which are the Even-Toed Ungulate (Artiodactyla) and Odd-Toed Ungulate (Perissodactyla).

Giraffes are part of the Artiodactyla family as they have an even number of toes. Other hoofed mammals under this group are the pigs and hippopotamus.

On the other hand, horses are part of the Perissodactyla family as they have an odd number of toes. Other close relatives of horses are the zebras, donkeys, and even rhinos.

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Differences Between Horses & Giraffes

Horses and giraffes are different when it comes to size, physical characteristics, classifications, and way of life.

The size of horses and giraffes is one distinct difference that you can visibly see right away. Giraffes are, definitely, way larger and taller compared to horses.

Another fascinating distinction between a horse and a giraffe is their stomachs. A horse has one stomach while a giraffe has four stomachs. These stomachs help giraffes to digest plants that are quite hard to break down.

Aside from the stomach, the hearts of horses and giraffes are quite different too. Horses have large hearts while giraffes own small hearts pertinent to their massive size.

These animals do not have similar ways of walking as well. Unlike horses, giraffes are swinging their legs on a similar side nearly at the same time which is known as pacing.

If you will ride on a giraffe, you will feel its sideways motion because of this manner of walking.

However, when a giraffe starts to run, it will run normally just like a four-legged animal, forgetting about the strange walk.

As for classification, horses are usually domesticated while giraffes are commonly in the wild.

Horses are tamed and usually born under human guidance which makes them highly dependent on them.

On the other side, giraffes are usually born and raised in the natural environment. This makes them self-sufficient and would usually be afraid or avoid humans.

Horses are versatile job creatures as well. They are strong and fit that enables them to accomplish heavy work.

As for giraffes, they are not employed for work and have some health conditions because of their long neck.

Similarities Between Horses & Giraffes

Horses and giraffes have similarities when it comes to their diet, physical characteristics, capabilities, groups, and life span.

Despite the differences, horses and giraffes have some things in common that will certainly interest you.

First, they are both herbivores. Horses and giraffes are both plant-eating animals.

Though giraffes are consuming some animal bones as well, they are not a carnivore type that eats meat. They are only chewing and sucking bones, not swallowing them, to get some minerals. This is called osteophagia which means feeding on bones.

Both horses and giraffes are also quadrupeds and mammals. Unlike other mammals that have fur, their skin is covered with hair.

They are both giving birth to their offspring while standing up too.

They are also part of a group called herd. They are commonly not roaming on their own.

Since they are herbivores, they are very cautious of their environment for potential predators such as wolves. Both of them are using their strong legs to kick and kill their enemies.

They both fast runners as well. Horses can run at 88 kilometers at maximum while giraffes can go up to 60 kilometers per hour.

Horses and giraffes almost have the same life span as well as they can live from 20 to 25 years on average.

Is A Giraffe A Horse?

No. A giraffe is not a horse. A horse is a domesticated ungulate mammal with only one toe while a giraffe is a wild ungulate mammal with two toes.

Even though both giraffes and horses are ungulate mammals, they are not from similar families. They are simply not the same kind.

Horses have lots of characteristics that giraffes merely do not possess.

A horse is a trained animal, usually accompanies humans as it is domesticated.

Horses can carry people and load on their backs but giraffes simply could not because they are not trained to do so and their body structure is not suited for such work.

Even though they are both herbivores and can run fast, giraffes are consuming different food on their diets which horses do not eat; likewise, horses are still way faster than giraffes.

Some of the two-toed animals that are part of the giraffes’ family are the antelopes, cattle, camels, deer, goats, and hippopotamuses.

Is Giraffe Horse Family?

No. Giraffe is not part of the horse family, rather it is a member of the Giraffidae family.

Horses are born under the Equus class in the Equidae family. Equidae is a family of horses and horse-like animals which includes donkeys and zebras as well.

On the other hand, giraffes are part of the family of Giraffidae.

This family only consists of two classes which are the Giraffa camelopardalis (giraffe) and Okapia johnstoni (okapi). They are commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Unlike the animals in the horse family that are mostly found in domestication, the Giraffidae family is inhabiting in the wild such as deep forests for okapi and savannahs for giraffes.

Okapi is the closest family of giraffes. Compared to giraffes, okapis do not possess remarkable long necks and legs. They have poor eyesight as well in contrast with giraffes.

Compared to giraffes that are part of groups, okapis are usually on their own and satisfied already with their tiny habitat.

Okapis are usually mistaken for zebras because of their black and white stripes on their backs. But this similarity is genuinely accidental and has nothing to do with their genes.

Are Giraffes A Type of Horse?

No. Giraffes are not a type of horse as they came from a different type of family.

There are over 300 breeds of horses and none of their special characteristics as one of the equine family is possessed by giraffes.

Giraffes are not a type of horse as they came from a different breed of animals. They are raised distinctively and do not share the kind of daily life that horses have as a pet, as a working animal, or as a racer.

Giraffes are divided into four distinguished species which are the Southern giraffe (G. Giraffa), Masai giraffe (G. Tippelskirchi), Reticulated giraffe (G. Reticulata), and Northern giraffe (G. Camelopardalis). These four species simply cannot propagate with one another.

As for the types of horses, there are three categories on the basis of their temperament which are the “hot bloods”, “cold bloods,” and “warmbloods”.

Hot-blooded horses are the spirited ones with great speed and stamina. Cold-blooded horses are those for slow and difficult tasks such as draft horses. As for warm-blooded horses, they are raised particularly for riding purposes.

Can You Ride On A Giraffe Just Like A Horse?

Yes. You can ride on a giraffe, but not in the same way you can ride on a horse. Theoretically, you can ride on a giraffe given its strength; however, due to its tall height, unique body structure, and the fact that it is not domesticated, it would be difficult to ride on and run with it so expert training is needed.

Since giraffes are known for their tall height, long neck, and strong hooves, many must be wondering if they can be a great carrier just like horses.

On the contrary, some might raise their eyebrows as the physique of giraffes may look dangerous for riding. They are too high and strong that they might cause injuries to anyone who will attempt to ride on them.

Since giraffes are not a domesticated type of animal, it is surprising to see them carrying humans on their backs. They have a sloping back which is simply not crafted for riding.

You cannot see a giraffe being used in riding nowadays. They are commonly found in zoos or reserves mostly in Africa.

Interestingly, there was a claim before that a man in the Chipperfield’s Circus was able to train a giraffe for riding during the 1950s.

And there is actually a young man who attempted to follow the footsteps of this circus performer riding on giraffes in South Africa.

The young man raised and trained his giraffes while they were still young. With gentle care and handling, he was able to build a very intimate bond with them and successfully trained them for riding.

While this young man proves that you can really ride on giraffes, it is not that easy as loads of commitment, time, effort, and resources are needed.

Since giraffes are not domesticated and not really suited for riding, their safety, as well as their riders’, is being compromised.

Even if training a giraffe to ride is proven to be possible, you should not attempt if you are not a professional.

On top of all, giraffes are wild animals that are being protected by wildlife conservationists. These animals should only receive the best possible care to make them feel like living with nature freely, even when they are in captivity.

References:

 Animal Diversity Web. (2000). Giraffidae (giraffes and okapis). https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Giraffidae/

Giraffe Conservation Foundation. (2019, March 14). Are there different types of giraffe? https://giraffeconservation.org/facts/are-there-different-types-of-giraffe/

Giraffe Conservation Foundation. (2020, January 7). Giraffe guide: Species facts, lifespan and habitat. Discover Wildlife. https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/facts-about-giraffes/

Giraffe Facts Org. (2014). Can you ride a giraffe? Facts about mounting giraffes. https://giraffefacts.org/can-you-ride-a-giraffe.html

Lacerda, L. (2017, July 3). The long-lost cousin of rhinos and horses. Earth Archives. https://eartharchives.org/articles/the-long-lost-cousin-of-rhinos-and-horses/index.html

New World Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Equidae. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Equidae#Classification