Giraffe Pica Behavior And Pathology As Indicators Of Nutritional Stress

Geophagia and osteophagia were a common feature of the feeding routine of the southern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) during the months from April to November. Osteophagia occurred at approximately the same frequency in adults and sub-adults. However, geophagia was primarily exhibited by sub-adult giraffe. The acts of geophagia and osteophagia were carried out by an identical set of search, accusative, and gratification behaviors. Kidney stones and associated cortical and medullary lesions were observed in 29 percent of the 75 adult and sub-adult giraffe sampled. The frequency of osteophagia and geophagia indicated that these forms of pica were important nutritional supplements. The occurrence of pica or renal calculi can be used as an indicator of nutritional stress and in the assessment of habitat deficiencies.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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