Giraffes are extremely large ruminants with high shoulders, long necks, slopping backs and two horns. They possess a long prehensile tongue. Giraffes make homes in a variety of habitats such as savanna and forest. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa. They feed the most during the early hours of the day or at dusk. Giraffes typically eat in open areas so they can have a clear view of predators even though it reduces their feeding efficiency.
What Do Giraffes Eat
Giraffes are herbivorous and their unique physical form has allowed them to reach as high as 6 ft (2 m) band of foliage which other animals can’t reach other than elephant. Prominent among giraffe’s species is a large bull giraffe which is able to extend its neck almost vertically to reach foliage 19 ft (5.8) high above the ground.
Giraffes are absolute browsers as they spend most of their time eating broad-leaved deciduous foliage in the rains. They rarely feed on herbs, grass, and fruits , depending on a specific season.
The animal supplements its diet with 100 species of trees but in any one area it relies on 40 – 60 species. They fancy eating trees such as Combretum, Commiphora, and Acacia. Giraffes are very much choosy in their feeding; they use their long prehensile tongue to select the most nutritious leaves.
Commiphora and Terminalia trees ensure the proper growth of an animal because they provide calcium and protein. They are also known to chew the bark off branches especially when stressed. The food is abundant in the wet season during which giraffes spread out to browse as much as they can.
Giraffe’s molars easily crush acacia while they strip off the shoots by pulling leaves in a gap between canines and molars.
A male giraffe is known to eat 145 (66 kg) food each day when favorable conditions are there for feeding. However in periods of poor-quality giraffes feed as little as 15 lb (7kg).
They have four-chambered stomachs and they can chew while walking that indeed facilitates feeding opportunities.
Giraffes occasionally eat bones and even carcasses in order to make up the deficiency of minerals in areas lacking food containing minerals. This however does carry a risk of disease.
They extract moisture from foliage which is why they don’t drink too often. If the water is available giraffes drink every two to three days. Giraffe’s long neck makes it rather difficult to bend while drinking thereby giving it a splay-legged and bent-kneed pose. They are the most vulnerable to potential predators while drinking and therefore all the members of the family do not drink at once; one animal often keep watch while the other drinks.
Learn more about: Giraffe Height