76). Flehmening occurs when a male giraffe finds an interesting smell (flehmening is common to almost all ungulate species). Flehmening is a male prerogative, distinct from the urine licking done by giraffes of both sexes, young and old.
A male giraffe, on joining a herd flehmens (or sniffs) the urine of females after initiating urination by pushing his nose against the cow's hindquarters, or licking and nibbling her tail (Mochi and MacClintock, p. 77). The bull collects some of the urine with his tongue, then extends his head and holds it motionless for a minute or two. His upper lip curls upward. This closes off his nostrils, trapping odors in the nasal cavity where they can be thoroughly assessed by the olfactory epithelium, which is the smell-sensitive lining of the nose. The bull may then eject the urine from his mouth. This is presumed to be the method by which the bull giraffe tests for cows in heat - by detecting hormone changes in urine samples. If a cow is not in heat, the bull loses interest in her and moves on (Mochi and MacClintock, p. 79).
A bull closely follows a cow in heat and when she stops, the bull raises a foreleg and taps it against the cow's hind leg. If she does not move away, the bull attempts to mount her. He may also test the cow's readiness to mate by resting his head against her flank. If she moves off, the bull usually persists. A bull may have to follows a cow for hours before successfully mating with her. The actual mating is brief, but is repeated a number of times within a period of several hours. Occasionally, an older bull will chase off a younger one who is trying to mate with a cow in his group (Mochi and MacClintock, p. 79-80).
Although there is little competition among young bulls for cow's in heat, because of the loose structure of giraffe herds, males do enter into head-slamming matches to establish hierarchy, or ranking order, of physical and sexual dominance, and ser...
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