Chewing the Cud

Chewing the Cud


Africa. Not only is the giraffe the tallest mammal alive, it is the 2nd largest land animal (after the elephant) and the largest ruminant. The largest what? What in the world is a ruminant (other than a really cool word)?

Well, ruminates soften their food in their first stomach (they have 4 stomachs one of which is called the rumen), regurgitate it (a polite way of saying they throw it up) and then chew it again to further break it down so they can digest it.

Other ruminates include cattle, sheep, goats, camels, deer and antelopes. All have split hooves and eat by grazing. Giraffes just do it from a much higher vantage point since they can be 20 feet tall.

Ruminates are able to digest grasses and other vegetation that animals with only one stomach can not digest. They literally chew the cud or chew the regurgitated mass. So while chewing the cud has come to mean pondering or meditating, it also means rechewing your food, if you just happen to be a ruminant.