What do giraffes eat?

Giraffes are ruminant mammals characterized by their long necks. They have their origin in the African savannah and can be found both in wooded areas and in more open areas where they carry out important processes such as feeding. Together with the okapi, the giraffe forms the Giraffidae family and is considered the tallest land animal species, being able to measure up to 6 meters and weigh 900 kilograms.

These large animals are herbivores, as they consume large amounts of plant matter and rarely become food for other wild animals, as their few predators mainly include adult lions, crocodiles and hyenas. Giraffes can defend themselves very well with kicks and have been known to kill lions with their strong, large legs. If you want to know what giraffe eat, don't hesitate to read this AnimalWised article.

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  1. Giraffes digestive system
  2. What giraffe eat?
  3. Curiosities about the feeding of giraffes

Giraffes digestive system

Giraffes' digestion is a slow process. In the mouth they have a long black-purple tongue that they use to start food on many occasions, which they grind with their large and developed molars before passing to the esophagus and stomach. In addition, they have a prehensile upper lip with small hairs that allows them to eat vegetables with thorns without causing damage to their mouth.

Once the food is crushed, it passes into the stomach, which has four chambers. Like good ruminant animals they regurgitate food that they ingest passing from the stomach to the mouth to be chewed again and returned to the stomach chamber more crumbled (ruminate). That is, they carry out the digestive process in two stages in order to make the most of the nutrients from the plants they consume. This makes digestion slow and therefore they spend a few hours lying down carrying it out. In addition, vegetables are more difficult to digest than animal meat and the process is more laborious..

After digestion is carried out in the different stomach chambers of the giraffe, the food passes to its long bowels that they can count on more than 60 meters of length. In them all the necessary nutrients are absorbed and, finally, the waste is expelled through the anus.

What giraffe eat?

Giraffes are herbivores, so that these animals usually feed on different plants, among them the following stand out:

  • Mimosa pudica
  • Prunus armeniaca
  • Combretum micranthum
  • Spirostachys Africana
  • Peltophorum africanum
  • Pappea capensis

Nevertheless, your favorite food are the leaves of trees belonging to the genus Acacia, as these have a high protein and calcium content that allows the giraffe a good and fast growth. In addition, within the diet of giraffes there is also the consumption of fruits and herbs humid that provide a large amount of water, something essential in periods of greater drought where the lands are very arid.

Thanks to their long necks they can reach the highest leaves of the trees. However, they can also bend down by spreading their front legs to consume the grasses that are on the ground or to drink water from the lakes or ponds available in the area..

Although they tend to feed during dawn and dusk in the savannah and open areas where they can see trees better and be alert for predators, they have no problem moving to other more wooded areas if food is scarce..

Curiosities about the feeding of giraffes

Now that you know what giraffes eat, these facts about their diet will surely seem curious to you:

  • In just one day they can consume around 70 kilograms of vegetable matter.
  • They can dedicate between 15 and 20 hours a day to feed themselves and they do not mind doing it during the hottest hours, because they take advantage of the fact that their biggest predators are resting at that time.
  • If they can choose, they will turn to the Acacia for food. In case this is scarce, it is when they choose to consume other species of plants.
  • According to the hypothesis of the French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamark, the long neck of these animals has been a factor acquired during evolution. In this way, the neck has taken more and more measures as the giraffes struggled to get to eat the highest leaves of the trees..
  • The tongue of giraffes is prehensile and, therefore, they use it to grab the leaves of the trees and other herbs from the ground.
  • Sometimes also they can consume land in certain regions where the soil contains large amounts of salts and minerals.
  • They usually take advantage of the night hours to carry out the rumination process, that is, regurgitation of food and digestion process. This takes them a long period of time.
  • Food predominates in the wet seasons, however, in the hottest seasons such as summer it begins to be scarce. For this reason, giraffes go from being dispersed in their habitat to concentrating in more wooded places to feed on numerous evergreen leaves of different tree species.

If you want to know more curiosities of giraffes, do not miss these other articles:

  • ¿How Giraffes Sleep?
  • Types of giraffes

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