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What can elephants do with their trunks?

Updated on February 27, 2014
Elephants have over 4,000 muscles in their trunks, making them strong for doing work  .
Elephants have over 4,000 muscles in their trunks, making them strong for doing work .

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The amazing elephant trunk

Does an elephant drink through its trunk?

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More than other parts of its body, the trunk of an elephant amazes kids and adults alike. Getting close to an elephant makes some feel that its trunk is a distinct and an independent creature built within the animal.

Composition of elephant trunk

It’s interesting to note that its nose and upper lip are what composed the trunk. Obviously its nose with 2 nostrils is its breathing organ. And at the end of the trunk are “fingers” that distinguish the African elephant which has 2 fingers from that of the Asian elephant which has one

40,000 plus muscles make up the elephant's trunk

Unbelievably but true, there are about 40,000 muscles, other sources say closer to 100 thousand, in the trunk alone which are perfectly arranged round the nose tubes.

Elephants drink water

Elephants do drink water, but not directly through their trunks. It is a mistake to say that they drink water directly from their trunks, because if they do, they’ll suffocate and suffer cough reflex just what humans feel when water enter through the nose.

Elephant's way of drinking water

However, their nostrils can suck up about 10 liters of water into their trunk and blow it into their mouth. That’s the elephant’s way of quenching their thirst.

Myriad uses of elephants' trunks

Elephants have other equally important use of their trunks. They serve as fingers to pick up foods and heavy objects like logs. They signal their mood when happy, sad, hungry and angry. In battle their trunks are deadly weapons to fend off, thrust and punch enemies. Their trunks also tell them who are their families and members of their species. By their trunks, they knew perfectly well they are within their territorial boundary. Trunks are their means of communications that never fail.

How baby elephants suck milk

Baby elephants suck their mother’s milk directly through their mouth and not through their trunks.

Learning the use of their trunks the hard way

Baby elephants are cute and sometimes funny creatures. Ignorant, they step on their trunk and scream in pain, not knowing what and who cause the agony. They have to learn the hard way of the proper use of their trunks.

Water sources for elephants

In the wild, elephants fill their water needs in rivers, lakes and their favorite watering holes early morning and at dusk. They take their bath when necessary. They drink water only once at mid-day during winter.

Elephants are clean animals

They are clean animal. They need cool, clean and pure water. For this reason, they don’t go to drink in company with other elephants. Often, with their trunks, they dug to reach water that has been filtered through the sand. Perhaps this is nature’s way to protect them from drinking foul water.


During drought water is a matter of life and death for the elephants. They protect their watering holes by driving away other species. Even elephant calves aren’t spared. They’re pushed away from the water source.

Care for elephants in captivity

Elephants in captivity normally require enough water twice a day, more if the weather is extremely hot. They’ll appreciate shower and drink clean water at noon time when the sun is hot.

Precautions to observe while elephants are eating or drinking

Extreme precaution must be observed while an elephant is eating or drinking. It should not be subjected to stress. It must not be bothered by other elephants from getting mad to prevent fighting and from going berserk.

Protection for diminishing number of elephants

Yahoo in 2009 estimates there are 450,000 to700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 to 40,000 wild Asian elephants. Their number is diminishing. Listed among endangered species, elephants are among wild animals and exotic plants that the United Nations through its sponsored program Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to protect their survival from international trade. CITES is tasked to address related problems such as loss of natural habitat, poaching and illegal trading.

Elephants thrive in closely-knit families

Elephant maintained closely knit societies. Their families can only be separated by death or capture. They exhibit behaviors, such as grief, learning, sense of humor, etc.The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said that elephants are the animals which surpass all others in wit and mind.

Source: Elephant drinking


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