Gazelles, the graceful and agile mammals often spotted on the African savannah, are known for their love of grazing. As they wander through their habitats, they face numerous challenges, including evading predators like lions. Nevertheless, their appetite for various plant-based foods remains a constant.

Primarily herbivorous, gazelles have a diverse diet that includes grass, leaves, and different types of plants, even bushes or shrubs. But what exactly drives their passion for such a varied plant-based diet, and how much do they consume every day? Join us as we explore the fascinating world of gazelles and their dietary habits.

What Does a Gazelle Eat?

Gazelles are herbivores that consume various types of plant materials they find, such as grasses, tree leaves, shrubs, and plant buds. These animals have a reputation for constant grazing, often continuing until all the grass has been eaten in their habitat.

In addition, gazelles are known to prefer high-quality plant matter. A study published in an ecology journal indicated that these animals often select top-quality grass to obtain maximum energy benefits. As inhabitants of arid regions, their diet plays a crucial role in their survival and well-being.

A Complete List of 8 Foods Gazelles Eat

Gazelles are herbivorous animals that thrive in various habitats such as grasslands, savannah, and even semi-arid regions like the Sahara. They have a diverse diet that sustains their energetic lifestyle. Here’s a brief breakdown of what these nimble creatures eat:

  1. Grass: A staple food for gazelles, found in grasslands and open areas.
  2. Leaves: Gazelles will consume leaves from shrubs, bushes, and trees.
  3. Bushes and Shrubs: These provide additional vegetation for gazelles to munch on.
  4. Plant buds: An energy-rich source for these fast-moving animals.
  5. Various plant species: Gazelles have a diverse palate that includes different types of plants.
  6. Acacia tree pods: A tasty snack found in their desert habitat.
  7. Twigs: Another source of nutrition, particularly in harsh environments.
  8. Fruits: When available, gazelles will also enjoy feasting on fruits.

Keep in mind that while gazelles may graze on many kinds of plants, they will often choose ones that provide the most energy, as they need to stay alert and agile to escape from predators.

Does a Gazelle Drink Water?

Gazelles have a fascinating ability to survive in arid environments. While it’s a common belief that every living creature needs water, many gazelle species manage to thrive without directly consuming water. Instead, they acquire the necessary hydration from the plants they eat, which serves as their primary source of moisture1.

This remarkable adaptation is a result of these animals evolving over generations in harsh desert conditions where water sources are scarce. However, it is important to note that not all gazelle species share this trait. Some may still need to seek out water resources to quench their thirst2.

In conclusion, while gazelles may not actively search for water sources, they can still adequately hydrate themselves through their plant-based diet. If they happen to stumble upon a water source like a river or oasis, they will utilize it, but their survival is not entirely dependent on it. This extraordinary adaptation allows gazelles to thrive in environments where water is limited, such as dry deserts or plains following the end of the rainy season3.

How Much Does a Gazelle Eat?

Gazelles have a varied diet, consuming between 3-6 pounds of grass or plant matter each day. This amount may fluctuate depending on factors such as the gazelle’s age and gender. It is noteworthy that gazelles have an average daily protein intake of 18%, which is relatively high for herbivores.

Although few studies have been conducted to determine the precise amount of food consumed by a gazelle, their frequent grazing habits suggest that the actual figure may be higher than the estimated 3-6 pounds. This could be particularly true for pregnant gazelles, whose nutritional needs may be increased during the gestation period.

Gazelles display an impressive ability to access food sources by standing on their hind legs, similar to humans, allowing them to reach tree leaves and taller shrubs. This remarkable skill demonstrates that gazelles may potentially consume more food than previously assumed.

As migration and dry seasons often affect the availability of food for these mammals, their stotting and high-speed movements help them cover large distances to find sufficient grazing areas, keeping them well-fed and able to raise their fawns in even the most challenging conditions.

Do Gazelles Have Any Predators?

Gazelles face various threats from multiple predators in their natural habitat. Some of their primary predators include:

  • Lions: As apex predators, lions are known to prey on gazelles.
  • Cheetahs: With their incredible speed, cheetahs can easily hunt down gazelles.
  • African wild dogs: These efficient hunters often target gazelles in their pursuit for food.
  • Hyenas: As opportunistic predators, hyenas won’t hesitate to attack gazelles when the opportunity arises.
  • Leopards: Despite being solitary hunters, leopards are skilled at capturing gazelles.
  • Eagles and other birds of prey: These aerial hunters can snatch young and vulnerable gazelles.
  • Pythons: These large and powerful snakes can constrict and consume gazelles.
  • Crocodiles: Although not typical predators, crocodiles can prey on gazelles when they approach water sources.

Additionally, gazelles often fall prey to human hunters, who may target them for food. Despite their renowned speed, gazelles cannot always evade their numerous predators, particularly when humans are involved.

What Do Different Types of Gazelle Eat?

Gazelles, with around 20 distinct species globally, are herbivores, meaning they consume plants and plant materials. However, there are variations in the diets of different gazelle species. For instance, Grant’s gazelles are known to browse more than Thomson’s gazelles, as observed by a study in the Journal of Mammalogy.

One crucial difference between the two species is their water consumption. Grant’s gazelles obtain all their hydration from plants, while Thomson’s gazelles need to find water to survive. This suggests Grant’s gazelles might be pickier eaters.

Interestingly, gazelles’ eating habits resemble those of wildebeests, as noted by the Journal of Animal Ecology. Since both animals inhabit the same regions, they often compete for food sources.

All gazelle species share a preference for fresh and newly sprouted grass. They are frequently found grazing in areas recently affected by wildfires, as these locations tend to be the first to grow new grass. The tender green shoots are irresistible to various gazelle species, such as dama gazelles and dorcas gazelles.

To sum up, gazelles are herbivorous animals with a keen appetite for fresh, newly sprouted grass. Their exact diets may differ slightly among species, such as between Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles. Furthermore, they often encounter wildebeests as competitors for food resources in their habitats.


  1. Grant’s gazelle – Wikipedia

  2. Thomson’s gazelle – Wikipedia

  3. Mountain gazelle – Wikipedia

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