The scent of the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) emits a scent that can be detected by humans over considerable distances. Dichloromethane extracts of hair samples from adult male and female reticulated giraffes (G. c. reticulata) were analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Two highly odoriferous compounds, indole and 3-methylindole, identified in these extracts appear to be primarily responsible for the giraffe’s strong scent. Other major compounds identified were octane, benzaldehyde, heptanal, octanal, nonanal, p-cresol, tetradecanoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, and 3,5-androstadien-17-one; the last compound has not previously been identified from a natural source. These compounds may deter microorganisms or ectoparasitic arthropods. Most of these compounds are known to possess bacteriostatic or fungistatic properties against mammalian skin pathogens or other microorganisms. The levels of p-cresol in giraffe hair are sufficient to repel some ticks.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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