The skin and hair of giraffes may repel ticks, mosquitoes and bacteria via secreted chemical compounds, particularly indole, skatole, and p-cresol.


"…two alkaloids, indole and 3-methylindole (skatole), are primarily responsible for the scent of the giraffe…Indole occurs naturally in the floral scent of jasmine, orange blossom and other flowers (Poucher, 1974). Indole and 3-methylindole have an intense faecal odour at high concentrations that becomes pleasant in very dilute solutions — both are used in perfumery (Poucher, 1974)…Many of these compounds may function as antimicrobial agents…The growth of two ubiquitous species of skin bacteria is inhibited by some of the giraffe-derived compounds…Another possible function of these compounds may be to repel ectoparasitic arthropods. Both indole and skatole were judged by Rudolfs (1922, 1930) to repel wildcaught mosquitoes (Aedes spp.) from the US, but quantitative results are needed to affirm this. A tick found in areas inhabited by giraffes, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, is repelled by p-cresol, one of the giraffe skin compounds…" (Wood and Weldon 2003:915-916)

Journal article
The scent of the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)Biochemical Systematics and EcologyOctober 27, 2016
William F Wood, Paul J Weldon

GiraffeGiraffa camelopardalisSpecies