What Do Giraffes Eat?

J & C Sohns/Picture Press/Getty Images

Giraffes eat buds and leaves from vegetation. They forage from trees, bushes and shrubs, and occasionally dine on grass. The exact makeup of their diet varies with their immediate surroundings and the season; however, all giraffes are herbivores, relying entirely on plants for food.

Giraffes use their strong tongues to tear leaves, shoots, flowers and buds off of vegetation. Additionally, their mouths are quite rough, so they can even eat spiny plants. Because of their long necks, they have access to a wide range of plants, ensuring they have access to a plentiful diet.

Because of their large size, giraffes require large quantities of food every day. They sometimes spend upward of 75 percent of their day grazing, especially in the dry season. A healthy adult will consume around 66 pounds of food when it’s available, although they survive on a good deal less when foraging is difficult.

Although their feeding habits require constant foraging, their water requirements are much more modest. Like camels, giraffes can survive long stretches without drinking. When they have access to water sources, they drink heartily, consuming an average of 2 gallons of water a week. However, because their habitat does not always have reliable water sources, their drinking episodes are sometimes quite spread apart.