The Ultimate Guide to What Giraffes Eat

Have you ever stopped to ponder the dining habits of giraffes, the planet’s tallest land animal? With a neck that seemingly extends into the treetops, you must admit their eating habits must be extraordinary. Concerning the giraffe and okapi—the only two species making up the rather exclusive Giraffidae family—they both lead fascinating lives, but the giraffe captivates us today.

Getting to Know the Tall, Slender Grazers

Two Giraffes Eating Leaves on the Ground

Originating from central Asia over ten million years ago, the giraffe, scientifically known as giraffa camelopardis—quite the mouthful, isn’t it?—has since populated regions in Africa and even Israel. With females boasting a notable 16 feet in height and their male counterparts stretching the tape at an astonishing 19 feet, giraffes hold several world records in the animal kingdom:

  • Heftiest land animals, weighing over 4,000 lbs.
  • Land animals flaunting the longest neck.
  • Land animals with the longest tail, stretching around 8 feet in some cases.

A Little More on What Do Giraffes Eat: A Leafy Banquet

Closeup of a Giraffe Eating Tree Leaves

Utilizing their foot-and-a-half-long tongue, giraffes bring food to their mouth by curling around their chosen plant and then pulling back, effectively stripping the foliage. As ruminants—which brings cows to mind.—they partly chew their food, swallow it, and then bring it back up—also known as regurgitating—for further digestion.

Feeding Grounds of the Giraffes

Giraffes in the African Savannah

Giraffes prefer their dining spot to be somewhere in the grasslands, savannahs, or woodlands—spanning Central to South Africa—where they can nibble on a wonderful selection of plant life, primarily the delicious acacia. However, the seasonal swing plays a role in what giraffes eat. During the dry season, they feast on the foliage of evergreens. But come the rainy season, they switch to the fresh stems and leaves of deciduous trees.

Captive Giraffes: A Smorgasbord of Treats

In captivity, there is a whole new menu for the giraffe. The smorgasbord is a delight, from alfalfa hay to fruits like bananas and vegetables like carrots and apples to alfalfa pellets. It’s even familiar to spot them poking around in the treetops of nearby elm trees.

So, answering “What do giraffes eat?” is pretty straightforward. As herbivores, giraffes belong to a growing number of species that proudly lead a vegetarian way of life.

Related Resources:

Scroll to Top