Elephants are Amazing Animals!
Elephants are amazing creatures, yet the only experience most people have with elephants is viewing them in zoos or in a circus. Few actually have the privelage of watching these big, beautiful animals in the wild.
While most of us will never have the experience of viewing elephants in their natural habitat, we can still learn to appreciate all that elephants have to offer. Read on to learn more about these large, lovable mammals.
Fun Elephant Facts
- Elephants are in the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea.
- Elephants are the largest land animal on the planet! They are also very intelligent, with a brain which weighs approximately eleven pounds.
- They have a life span of fifty to seventy years.
- Female elephants usually don't mate until they are about fourteen years old. When they do mate, they will usually mate with older males. The gestation period for an elephant baby is 22 months.
- Baby elephants begin eating vegetation at about one year of age. However, they continue to nurse until they are about four years old.
- The distinctive trunk of the elephant has many uses including smelling, breathing, touching, picking things up, and making sounds. Sometimes, two elephants will wrap their trunks around each other as a sign of affection.
- A raised trunk can be a sign of agression towards another elephant, while a lowered trunk is a friendly sign.
- Elephants are social animals who live in herds of up to twenty animals. When one of the herd dies, the others have been known to show signs of sorrow. Elephants in captivity sometimes struggle with the lack of interaction with other elephants.
- The tusks of an elephant continue to grow throughout their lives, and can be used to determine the age of the animal.
- Elephants communicate by trumpeting very loudly, which can be heard for miles. They also make grunting sounds. Mother elephants will use a variety of sounds with their young and males make high pitched trumpeting sounds to attract females.
More Facts About Elephants
- An adult elephant can eat up to 400 pounds of food in a day. They are herbivores, eating bamboo, bark, grasses and leaves. It takes about sixteen hours a day to collect the food they need. Elephants have been known to shake trees to knock loose food which they can't reach. Sometimes, they'll pull an entire tree out of the ground!
- While elephants consume large quantities of food, they also move around frequently so they don't wipe out all of the vegetation in one area.
- These large animals need to drink over 200 litres of water a day.
- Elephants can be found in Africa and Asia.
- Did you know that they can swim! The elephant uses his trunk like a snorkel.
- The elephants large ears contain many blood vessels which release heat, helping to keep the animal cool.
- Most have twenty-six teeth. They are polyphyodonts, which means when their teeth fall out they grow back. New ones stop coming in as the elephant ages. When the teeth wear out, the elephant can starve to death.
- These animals have very tough skin which can be up to one inch thick. However, it is also very sensitive and sunlight can bother them, causing them to toss mud or dirt on themselves.
Have you ever seen an elephant?
Elephants and Humans
- Due to their rather large size, elephants have no natural predators. Humans are their most dangerous predator!
- Due to their large size, they need a large area of land to live on and are adversely affected by humans encroaching on their area.
- They have been used as work animals for many years due to their strength and intelligence.
- Many elephants have been killed for their tusks, which are ivory. Trading or selling ivory is illegal, but unfortunately, a black market for it still exists and poaching is still going on.
- These creatures will attack if they feel that they are being threatened or if they think their offspring are in danger. Otherwise, they are gentle animals.
- Elephant characters have been featured in popular culture. Some famous elephant characters include Dumbo, Babar, or Dr. Seuss's Horton in Horton Hears a Who.
- These beautiful creatures are endangered. Many people are working to protect them, yet there is still much work to be done.