Elephants are some of the largest animals roaming the planet. They are intelligent, social creatures with excellent memories.
Let’s learn some more memorable information about elephants! Also be sure to try our quick quiz to check you are learning along the way!
What do elephants look like?
There are two species of elephants: African elephants and Asian elephants.
African elephants are the largest land animal in the world. They can weigh up to eight tons.
Asian elephants are smaller and weigh closer to six tons.
All African elephants have tusks, but only some male Asian elephants have tusks. Both species of elephants have large ears and long trunks.
The trunk of an adult African elephant is seven feet long!
Elephants use their trunks to smell. They also use them to drink water.
They suck water into the trunk, then squirt the water into their mouths to drink.
To stay cool in the heat, elephants use their trunks to blow water and dust onto their bodies.
They make loud, trumpet-like sounds with their trunk when they feel threatened. They even hug with their trunks.
Where do elephants live?
African elephants can be found in tropical grasslands called savannas. They are located in 37 different countries south of Africa’s Sahara Desert.
Some African elephants also live in the rainforests of central and west Africa.
Asian elephants live in China, India, Sri Lanka, and many areas of Southeast Asia.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Their favorite foods include roots, bark, bamboo, leaves, and grass.
They also enjoy bananas and sugarcane. Adult elephants can eat up to 300-400 pounds of food a day!
Elephant herd behavior
Elephant herds are matriarchal, meaning they are led by females. They form herds of 8-100 related females and their babies, called calves.
The oldest female in the herd is the leader and is called the matriarch.
When a calf is born, the entire herd cares for and protects it. Female elephants are pregnant for 22 months. They usually have one calf at a time.
When calves are born, they already weigh 200-250 pounds.
Males leave the herd between the age of 12-15. At this point, they live alone or temporarily in a group of males.
To communicate across long distances, elephants produce a sub-sonic rumble. The rumble travels very quickly through the ground.
Other elephants receive the message through the skin on their feet and trunks.
Elephant population size
Some African elephant populations are still growing today, especially in southern Africa. But in other areas, like East Africa and central Africa, populations are declining.
In total, there are about 415,000 elephants left in Africa. They are considered vulnerable but not endangered.
On the other hand, Asian elephants are endangered. Their numbers have been cut in half over the last three generations and are continuing to decline.
There are only 40,000-50,000 left in the wild.
Elephants need large amounts of food, water, and space to survive. This is one reason some populations are struggling for survival.
They are also illegally hunted by humans, especially for their ivory tusks.
Other Interesting Facts About Elephants
- Elephants usually live to be about 70 years old.
- Elephant trunks have two fingerlike parts at the tip that allow them to perform actions like picking berries.
- Asian elephants have four toes on their back feet and five on their front feet. African elephants have three toes in the back and five in the front.
- If you’ve heard that elephants have fantastic memories, it’s true! For example, they can remember how to get to watering holes that they’ve visited years ago.
- Another popular rumor is that elephants are scared of mice. This one is not true. However, elephants have poor vision and can be startled if something quickly scurries by. So, a mouse’s sudden movement could be alarming.
- When elephant calves are born, they can’t control their trunks yet. It will take several months to develop enough muscle tone to move their trunks normally.
- In Asia, domesticated elephants are used for religious festivals, transportation, and moving heavy cargo.
- The same way babies might suck their thumbs, elephant calves soothe themselves by sucking on their trunks.
- Circus elephants have been trained to play baseball.
- In Indonesia, trained elephants help fight fires. They carry water pumps and hoses.
- The very first Youtube video was an 18-second clip of elephants in a zoo.
More Animal Facts.