What do Giraffes Eat?

Giraffe eating leaves.jpgWhenever someone sees one of the tallest animals in the world stride by, either in the wild or in the zoo, the thought must have crossed their mind – what do giraffes eat? Since giraffes are basically herbivores, they feed on a variety of shrubs, flowers, leaves, twigs, even in spite of thorns present.

Types of Food

The most important food for this animal is the acacia tree. The leaves of this tree contain moisture which helps the animal stay hydrated during periods when water is not available. The leaves of this tree are very high and so the giraffe uses its long neck to reach the leaves and eat them.

Volume of Food

The giraffe is a hefty eater. An adult giraffe can consume about 140 pounds of foliage each day. In order to keep up with this diet, this animal spends between 15 and 20 hours each day foraging for food and consuming it. This means a giraffe gets an average of two hours of sleep each day. A giraffe can drink between 10 and 12 gallons of water at a single time, too.

How a Giraffe Eats

This animal has a very interesting way of eating. It chews food partially, swallows it, and then regurgitates it back into its mouth for further chewing. The giraffe goes through the chewing, swallowing, and regurgitating process several times. A giraffe has only the front teeth on the bottom; the top is just a hard pad. It grinds up its food using the bottom teeth against the pad before swallowing.

Specialized Tongue

The giraffe has a specialized tongue that has the ability to cope with thorns entangled with the leaves and twigs. This means a giraffe can eat anything it wants. This tongue is also used to keep away bugs and other insects in the twigs and leaves.