What Do Giraffes Eat?

What Do Giraffes Eat?
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Giraffes are large ruminants. These animals are the world’s tallest terrestrial animals. These spectacular animals tend to dine on the leaves and twigs of plants, such as the acacia trees, mimosa, and wild apricot trees. Giraffes also feed on fruits.


What Do Giraffes Eat?

Type of Giraffe Diet
The Southern Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa) Leaves, shoots of trees, flowers, acacia bark, pods, and seeds. This giraffe rarely feeds on grass.
The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi) Leaves of the acacia tree, twigs, and a wide array of seasonal fruits found within their habitat.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) Seed pods, leaves, and fruits of their favorite trees, which include acacia, wild apricot, and mimosa.
The Northern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) Shoots, grains, nuts, leaves, flowers, and fruits. They also eat soil to obtain minerals.

Types of Giraffes and Their Habitats

Types Of Giraffes Habitats

In most studies, only one species or kind of Giraffe was recognized, which is the Giraffa Camelopardalis and 9 of its subspecies, which include:

  • The Angolan Giraffe
  • Masai Giraffe
  • Kordofan Giraffe
  • Reticulated Giraffe
  • The South African Giraffe.
  • Nubian Giraffe
  • The West African Giraffe.
  • Rothschild’s Giraffe
  • Thornicroft’s Giraffe

The above classification was based on the evaluation of the morphology of the giraffes as well as their geographic ranges, which have recently been rendered obsolete.

A recent study performed by the Senckenberg biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and Giraffe Conservation Foundation focused on performing the first DNA analysis on the significant natural giraffe populations in their African range.

Giraffes habitat includes Savannah and woodlands in many African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and more.

The findings revealed an updated version of the traditional giraffe taxonomy, and they confirmed that four main types of giraffes exist, and five subspecies.

The four types are as follows, including their preferred habitats.

What Do Southern Giraffes Eat?

What Do Southern Giraffes Eat
Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Giraffidae Giraffa Giraffa giraffa

The southern giraffe mainly eats the leaves and shoots of trees. They also dine on flowers, acacia bark, pods, and seeds, depending on their availability. This giraffe rarely feeds on grass.

  • The Southern giraffe has two subspecies : the South African giraffe and the Angolan giraffe.
  • This giraffe is found in South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique.
  • This species is mostly found in the savannah and woodland areas of these regions.

What Do Masai Giraffes Eat?

What Do Masai Giraffes Eat
Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Giraffidae Giraffa Giraffa tippelskirchi

Masai Giraffes mainly eat the leaves of the acacia tree. They also eat twigs and a wide array of seasonal fruits found within their habitat.

  • The declining numbers of this species make it listed as an endangered species.
  • The Masai giraffe is found in wide distribution in the savannahs of the central and southern parts of Kenya.
  • This species is also found in the savannah of Tanzania. These species can also be found in limited distribution in Rwanda.

What Do Reticulated Giraffes Eat?

What Do Reticulated Giraffes Eat
Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Giraffidae Giraffa Giraffa reticulata

The reticulated giraffes feed on seed pods, leaves, and fruits of their favorite trees, which include acacia, wild apricot, and mimosa.

  • The reticulated giraffe gets its name from the fact that its red coats are divided by reticulations of white lines, making its appearance somewhat different compared to the other types of giraffes.
  • This species is mostly found in the drylands of the horn of Africa.

What Do the Northern Giraffes Eat?

What Do Northern Giraffes Eat
Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Giraffidae Giraffa Giraffa camelopardalis

The Northern Giraffe feeds on shoots, grains, nuts, leaves, flowers, and fruits. They also eat soil to obtain minerals.

  • The Northern Giraffe has 3 subspecies, namely the Kordofan giraffe, West African giraffe, and the Nubian giraffe.
  • This species inhabits open woodlands, grasslands, and savannah of Chad in the North and extends to Niger in the west, Somalia to the East, and some parts of South Africa.

What Do Giraffes Eat in the Savanna?

Giraffe Eating In Savannah

Savanna hosts three different species of Giraffes, namely Southern Giraffes, Masai Giraffes, and Northern Giraffes. These Giraffes in Savannah eat leaves, shoots of trees, flowers, twigs, Acadia trees, seasonal fruits, and even soil.

Do Giraffes Eat Bananas?

In the domesticated environment such as Zoos, Giraffes would eat bananas if offered. However, in the wild, giraffes mostly consume the leaves, Acacia tree twigs, mimosa, wild apricot trees, and the fruits found in shrubs.


What Do Giraffes Drink?

Giraffe Drinking Water

Like many animals, Giraffes do need water for hydration and well-being. Since Giraffes are too tall, it would need to shuffle and spread their front legs to reach for the water on the ground. Especially when these tallest herbivores drink water from the pond or river, they would be vulnerable from crocodile attacks. Giraffes tend to drink water only every few days. However, they do get most of the required water from the plants they consume.

Do Giraffes Eat Bones?

Though giraffes are herbivores, when they lack nutrients from their daily diet or when scarce, they tend to eat bones from dead animals (such as buffalo). By chewing bones, giraffes get the required minerals such as phosphorous and calcium that their body needs. This phenomenon is called as osteophagia. Giraffes won’t eat the entire bones but rather chew them for sometimes until the nutrients are extracted and spit them out.

Note that the same behavior (osteophagy) can be seen in other herbivores, too, namely red deer, wildebeest, antelopes, and camels.

How Do Giraffes Hunt?

Do Giraffes Hunt

Giraffes do not hunt because they are herbivores, meaning they draw most of their nutrients from consuming plant matter.

  • One strange feeding behavior that has been noted in giraffes is that they also feed on bones, an action defined as osteophagy.
  • Giraffes routinely engage in osteophagy to provide their bodies with minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which are enriching to them.

When Do Giraffes Eat?

When Do Giraffes Eat

Giraffes are mostly diurnal creatures, feeding during the day and sleeping at night.

How Often Do Giraffes Eat?

How Often Do Giraffes Eat

Often, giraffes eat about 75 pounds of food a day. They spend between 16 and 20 hours a day feeding.

What Eats Giraffes?

What Eats Giraffes

Lions are the most significant predators of giraffes.

  • The lions often target the weak or young giraffes, as well as the pregnant ones.
  • Giraffes are also predated upon by hyenas and leopards.
  • Crocodiles have also been documented to prey on giraffes.

Where Do Giraffes Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Birds Feeding On Giraffes

Giraffes play an imperative role in the animal food chain. These organisms are a direct source of nutrition to the animals that prey on them.

  • Further, thanks to their mutually beneficial relationship with the oxpecker birds, giraffes provide an indirect source of nutrition to them.
  • These birds feed on the ticks found on the giraffe’s skin.

Cite this article as: "What Do Giraffes Eat?," in Bio Explorer, June 5, 2020, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-giraffes-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Are there different types of giraffe? – Giraffe Conservation Foundation”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “Diet & Feeding – Giraffes (Giraffa spp.) Fact Sheet – LibGuides at International Environment Library Consortium”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “Giraffe Facts & Photos | Live Science”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “Masai Giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi) – Giraffe Facts and Information”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “Reticulated Giraffe” – Saint Louis Zoo. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “RGP-Home”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “ADW: Giraffa camelopardalis: INFORMATION”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.
  • “Giraffe Tosses Dead Wildebeest Around in Bizarre Pictures”. Accessed May 01, 2020. Link.

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