Answering the question, “What do giraffes eat?”, may seem obvious since they are so tall and have access to things other animals don't but it is their eating habits that make them so intriguing.

Giraffes only eat plants, making them herbivores.  Their exceptionally long necks allow them to feed on the juicier leaves of tree that are receiving more sunlight.  They will feed on a variety of different trees but their absolute favorites are acacia trees and mimosa trees and they actually sort through the leaves, picking only the best ones.  Although they are herbivores, they do not care for grass this could be because it is such an inconvenience for them to attempt to eat or because it is just not nearly as rich as the leaves they generally consume.

Giraffes have a prehensile tongue that is incredibly long and can grow to be 20 inches.  It is black in color and designed to wrap around an object and hold onto it.  Their tongue works like a tool and it is very tough, which is important because acacia trees have thorns.

Giraffes look at eating as a hobby, or rather, a way of life and generally browse in the trees searching for the perfect leaves for 16 to 20 hours every single day.  Depending on how hungry and how large the giraffe is, it can eat up to 75 pounds of food per day but is quite capable of surviving on just 15 pounds.  The giraffes only require less food because the foliage that it does eat is very well concentrated with nutrients and their digestive system is very efficient.

Are you asking yourself, “What do giraffes eat?” when there aren't any leaves on the trees?  Well, food is abundant for the giraffe during rainy seasons but when the season is dry, they have to settle for bushes and evergreen trees.  The giraffe will first chew the food and then swallow it.  The food gets processed a bit and then they regurgitate the cud back up their very long neck and chew it again.  They do this several times for every mouth full of food they consume.

Like a camel, a giraffe can go a very long period of time without water but when they do finally venture over to the watering hole, they are capable of drinking 12 gallons of water at one time.  Lucky for them that they do not need to do this often because with their massive height they must spread their legs an incredibly awkward distance apart to lower themselves enough to get a drink.  This position is very vulnerable for them and where they are usually preyed upon by lions, leopards and hyenas.

Giraffe Anatomy

The remarkably long neck of the giraffe has an extremely lengthened vertebrae.  These vertebrae are all separated by joints that are very flexible.  The spine begins at the neck base and creates a hump at the shoulders and holds the neck up by using very strong muscles.

Their front legs are also approximately 10% longer than their rear ones enabling them to run quite fast with an unusual gait.  When an animal attempts to prey on a giraffe, they usually try to cause injury to a leg causing them to topple down.  Giraffes are very dangerous prey though.  One kick from a giraffe is capable of breaking the spine or shattering the skull of an adult lion.

The giraffe's heart can sometimes weigh up to 22 pounds and be 2 feet long which is necessary since it is required to generate twice the amount of blood pressure than any other animal to maintain a constant flow of blood all the way up to the brain.

Giraffes are fascinating animals with a complex body and a very simple life.  They sleep only two hours a day and spend most of their lives grazing for perfect leaves.