What Do Giraffes Eat? Their Diet Explained

What do giraffes eat - giraffe eating on white background
© NAPA/Shutterstock.com

Written by Emilio Brown

Updated: November 19, 2021

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What Do Giraffes Eat
Giraffes are herbivores that eat a diet heavy in acacia trees

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world and inhabit the Subsaharan of Africa. Weighing up to 3,000 pounds the giraffe is the eighth heaviest land mammal and is covered with a beautiful decorative spot pattern on its body. Being so big they are constantly eating and foraging. 

In a land filled with predators like lions and hyenas, the giraffe is strictly a herbivore. They fall into the category of even-toed ungulates which also include sheep, deer, cattle, and their other relatives. Let’s take a look at what a giraffe eats and how they find their food. 

What Do Giraffes Eat?

What do giraffes eat - giraffe with leaves

A giraffe eating leaves

©Koverninska Olga/Shutterstock.com

Giraffes are herbivores and have a plant-based diet. The leaves of the acacia and mimosa tree are their favorite food but they will also eat other leaves, seeds, buds, branches of trees, and occasionally grass. In fact, academic research shows that giraffes can eat up to 85% of new acacia shoots!

They are considered browsers, not grazers, which means they mostly consume higher vegetation instead of grass and low vegetation. A giraffe’s diet is simple but they have evolved to be efficient in how they eat. 

Giraffes will also eat and chew on bones of other animals to get the nutrients their body lacks. This is called osteophagy, and the bones are chewed and sucked on until they get enough nutrients, then spit out. 

How Does A Giraffe Eat?

What do giraffes eat - giraffe eating on white background

A giraffe showing off its long tongue


One of the most interesting things about the giraffe’s diet is the way its eats. They have many traits that help them with eating as they spend around 18 hours a day finding food. Giraffes have evolved to be efficient eaters, which helps them eat over 75 pounds of food a day. In general, giraffes eat between 1.6% and 2.1% of their body weight per day.

 Some of the things that help giraffes eat are:

  • Long dark tongue
  • Tall height
  • The lack of upper front teeth

A giraffe’s long tongue helps it reach high up foods along with its height. The tongue has a dark purple coloring to protect it from the sun and is thick to protect it from thorns. Giraffes also lack upper front teeth which help them chew and rip leaves off branches.

A Complete List of What Giraffes Eat

Giraffes eat foods that include:

  • Acacia trees
  • Mimosa trees
  • Leaves
  • Seeds
  • Buds
  • Branches of trees
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Flowers
  • Grass

 Do Calves of Giraffes Eat?

Baby giraffe - Baby giraffe with its mom

A baby giraffe with its mother


Baby giraffes are dropped into the world and expected to walk within the hour.

When born they are lightly kicked by the mother until they are able to stand. Babies’ giraffes have a height of around six feet at birth, which they need to reach their mother’s milk. Calves drink milk from their mother until 9 to 12 months. At around 3 months they are introduced to leaves, and will slowly start replacing the milk for solid food. 

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About the Author

Spiders, snakes, and lizards are my favorite types of animals, and I enjoy keeping some species as pets. I love learning about the various wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you can find me getting out into nature.

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