There are two different species of elephant, the African elephant and the Asian elephant.
- The African elephants have larger ears than the Asian elephants. Both the male and female African elephants have tusks, while only the male Asian will have tusks. The African elephant has very wrinkly looking skin.
The end of an African elephants trunk works as if they had two fingers on it, this helps them pick things up. African bush elephants are found in eastern, central and southern Africa. The African forest elephant are found in the Congo basin and western Africa.
- The Asian elephants will have smaller ears and their skin will be less wrinkly, then African elephants. Only the male will have tusks and Asian elephants trunk only have one finger at the end of their trunk. Asian elephants live in India, Nepal and parts of Southeast Asia. The Asian elephant is more closely related to the extinct mammoth than to the African elephant, which is surprising since it is the small of the two types.
Elephants have built in air conditioners, their ears. Elephants have large thin ears, containing a large network of blood vessels. So that when an elephant flaps its ears, it is actually cooling the blood flowing through its ears. This cooled blood then flows to the rest of its body keeping it cool on hot days. The elephant also benefits from its thick skin which helps keep it cool. An elephant's skin can be up to 1 inch thick and appears to be wrinkly. This thick wrinkly skin traps moisture and helps to keep the elephant cool, the wrinkles increase the surface area of the skin, trapping moisture.
Tusks are the elephants incisor teeth and they are used for defense, digging for water or lifting things. Elephants are not the only animal to have ivory tusks, but they are the most hunted for their tusks. Elephant tusks have a diamond pattern which give the ivory a better shine.
Elephants have 4 functional teeth, 12 in (30 cm) long, which are replaced 6 times during a typical lifespan. After the last replacement, the elephant can no longer feed properly. Have you heard of the secret Elephant burial grounds, it is a place that elephants go to die. Well there is some truth to this older elephants, will wear down their molars. This makes the tooth more sensitive, so the elephant prefers to eat softer food. Marshes and swamps are the perfect places to find soft food, this is where you will see many older elephants. So in a way it is an elephant burial ground.
An elephant will eat between 165 and 330 pounds of food and defecate up to 18 times a day. Almost 80 percent of what elephants consume is returned to the soil as barely digested highly fertile manure. Elephants will eat all types of vegetation and spend about 16 hours per day eating. Elephants will drink between 20 to 50 gallons of water each day.
Elephant Fun Facts
- The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest living terrestrial mammal.
- Adult male elephant is called a bull.
- Adult Female elephant is called a cow.
- A baby elephant is referred to as a calf.
- A fully grown African elephant reaches a height of 10-13 feet, an Asian Elephant reaches a height of 10 feet.
- An African elephant weighs about 15,400 pounds, an Asian elephant weights about 11,000 pounds.
- One molar from an elephant can weight 5 pounds and is the size of a brick.
- An elephant’s skin is so sensitive that it can feel a fly landing on it.
- Elephants don't drink with their trunks, instead they use them as "tools" for drinking with. This is accomplished by filling the trunk with water and then using it as a hose to pour it into their mouth.
- Elephants cannot survive more than 24 hours without drinking. This is why elephants are never too far from a water source.
- Elephant dung has an important role in dispersing the seeds of many plant species.
- Elephants typically reach puberty at thirteen or fourteen years of age.
- When males reach around 20 years old they start coming into 'musth', an extreme state of arousal when levels of testosterone in the blood may increase 20 times. This arousal state lasts about three weeks and during this time the individual will become aggressive and wander widely in search of females. During this time males will fight for females and this helps to increase their attractiveness to females.
- Elephants have offspring up until they are around 50 years old.
- Elephants can live for up to 70 years.
- Elephants are pregnant for a period of 22 months, which is the longest of any mammal on earth.
- The interval between births is 2 1/2 to 4 years.
- Baby elephants weight between 77-113kg when born.
- Baby elephants can consume 11.4 liters of milk a day.
- Elephants are sensitive and if a baby complains, the entire herd will rumble and go over to touch and caress it.
- The low, resounding calls elephants make can be heard by another elephant (Some sounds are well below the range of human hearing) up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) away.
- Elephants have been relentlessly hunted for their tusks, even though the tusks are made of dentine–the same as our teeth.
- In India’s Andaman Islands, elephants swim across the sea between the islands.
- The African elephant’s brain is bigger than that of any other animal and its skull is exceptionally large, having evolved to support the trunk and the heavy teeth and jaws.
- An elephant’s skull weighs about 115 pounds (52 kilograms); it would be even heavier without honeycomb-like spaces that reduce the skull's weight.
- Elephants favor either their left or right tusk. One tusk usually shows more wear than the other.
- The modern-day elephant is the only mammal that can remain submerged far below the surface of the water while using its trunk like a snorkel.
- An elephants trunk contains more than 40,000 muscles and tendons (some scientists say this number could be as height as 100,000) and its very sensitive at the tip.
- Elephants can pick up from the floor with its trunk objects the size of a coin.
- Elephant can lift approximately 300kg with their trunk.
- The elephant's trunk can grow to 2 meters long and weigh 140 km.
- Elephant trunks can get very heavy and it is not uncommon for elephants to rest them over a tusk.
- Elephants normally walk at about 4 mph, but can reach a top running speed of 25 mph (40km).
- Frequent bathing and showering, as well as powdering with dirt, is an important part of elephant skin care. Elephants grow throughout their lives, but the rate slows after sexual maturity.
- Asian elephants are very important in the religious and cultural history in India, Nepal and parts of Southeast Asia.
- Elephants have greeting ceremonies for when an elephant has been away for some time returns to the group.
- Elephants suffer from diseases similar to humans, like cardiovascular and arthritis type diseases.
Most people know that elephants live in social groups called herds, but did you know that herds are made up of only females and their offspring. The leader of the herd is called the matriarch and she is usually the oldest and most experienced female in the group. It is her job to remember the best places to eat and drink, how to avoid any predators and where to find the best shelter. The matriarch is also the teacher and she shows the younger elephants how to behave in an elephant society. Adult males usually do not live in the herd, they leave once they are old enough to find food and protect themselves. The the male becomes an adult he will visit the herd for brief periods to breed.