In the animal world, a fully-grown African elephant, or Loxodonta Africana to give it its scientific name, is the animal kingdom's equivalent to a double decker bus. It’s the biggest living land mammal and dwarfs almost any other creature. Both male and female elephants have tusks, and like human beings they're either right or left tusked which means one tusk gets worn down quicker than the other. Tusks are also particular to the elephant, varying in shape, size and angle so that researchers can use them to identify what elephant they came from. In a way, this is kind of similar to our own fingerprints.
An elephant's diet is pretty varied although it is purely vegetarian, and every single day they need to eat around 5% of their body mass. Things they eat include leaves, twigs, fruit, seed pods and grass. Aside from food, they also need to take in a whopping 30-50 gallons of water. Elephants drink water by using their trunks to siphon off water from a pool, for instance, and then pouring it into their mouths.
Elephants are social creatures and prefer the company of other elephants to living solo. They tend to live in small family units with an older male elephant at the helm and younger related elephants further down the pecking order.
Different family units can co-exist together in one particular area and get along fine. Like humans, elephants will happily greet each other when they come into contact at places like watering holes. Often, older male elephants will visit different family units to see if there are female elephants who are at the right stage to mate with.
Elephants are very caring creatures and female elephants look after their babies for many years. This ensures that their offspring learns skills like drinking water and so on. Baby elephants drink their mother’s milk until its tusks are around five to six inches long. At this point they start to cause a problem for the mother so she gradually weans her offspring and they go onto solid foods.
Calves (young and baby elephants) can fall prey to other animals such as lions, crocodiles and other carnivorous animals.
Elephants make deep growling noises to communicate with each other and they're often so low that they can't be heard by the human ear. However, other elephants are able to hear them up to five or six miles away.
If an elephant is in distress or senses danger close by, it may emit a loud blast. This almost deafening call will cause the other elephants in the group to form a protective barricade around younger elephants in order to keep them safe from potential harm.
Interesting Elephant Facts
• Elephants like to touch each other. They use their trunks to stroke and caress each other and two elephants can often be seen entwining their trunks together
• Elephants are highly intelligent creatures, hence the saying ‘an elephant never forgets’
• Elephants have a complex social structure and demonstrate interesting and advanced methods of communication
• A fully-grown African elephant’s trunk is around two meters long
• An elephant can drink around two gallons of water in one go!
• When elephants wade in deep water they use their trunks as snorkels
• The classic elephant trumpeting sound is a warning sound an elephant makes if it senses danger
• Like human babies that suck their thumb or a dummy, a baby elephant will often suck its trunk.
• An elephant has the longest pregnancy of all animals – a female elephant carries its baby in the womb for a whopping 22 months.
• Elephants can live to around 70 years old
• An African elephant can weigh more than six tons
For more information click onto:
HOW DO ELEPHANTS COMMUNICATE AND TALK TO EACH OTHER?
THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AFRICAN AND INDIAN ELEPHANTS?
WHERE DO ELEPHANTS LIVE?
WHY DO ELEPHANTS HAVE BIG EARS?