This large animal needs a lot of food to fuel itself. Adult giraffes
can eat up to seventy-five pounds of food in one day! They feed primarily
on acacia trees. There is not much competition with other species for
the leaves they feed on. One reason for this is because their long
necks allow them to reach much higher into the trees then other animals. They
also do not have to compete for their food because the acacia they feed on
have sharp thorns that prevents most other animals from eating the leaves.
Their 18-20 inch tongue gives the giraffe an advantage because it can reach
around the thorns and grab the leaves. If a thorn is accidentally
eaten the giraffe produces a thick saliva which coats the thorn so it does
not cause any damage. The male and female also do not compete with
each other. The females feed from the lower branches and males from
Giraffes spend a majority of their
day feeding. The leaves that they eat contain a lot of water, and
because of this giraffes can go for weeks without drinking. However
the herd will usually travel to a watering hole every couple of days.
Giraffes are ruminants which means
they have a four-chambered stomach. After they chew and swallow their
food for the first time, a ball of cud, partially digested food, is
regurgitated and chewed some more.
In captivity giraffes eat hay, grains,
vegetables, and also fresh leaves if available.