The elephant is the largest animal that lives on land. Some male elephants can grow to be thirteen feet tall. That’s more than twice as tall as many human adults. Elephants can weigh as much as a school bus—between ten and fourteen thousand pounds! Elephants smell, drink, eat, and wash themselves with their long trunks. They have tusks—long teeth made of ivory—that help them get food and carry heavy objects. The most obvious characteristic of elephants, besides their massive size, is their trunk. The trunk is nothing more than an elongation of their nose and upper lip. Besides being used for breathing and smelling it is also used as an appendage, much like an arm or hand. Elephants are capable of pulling up to 11.5 liters (3 gallons) of water into the trunk to be sprayed into the mouth for drinking or onto the back for bathing. They also use two fingerlike projections that are at the tip to manipulate small objects and to pluck grasses.
Elephants eat grass, small branches, and bark from trees. They especially like leaves from the top branches. They get the leaves by pushing down the trees with their large heads and bodies. Then they get the bark by scraping it with their sharp tusks. Most elephants live in the grasslands of Africa and in the forests of Asia. They live in groups called herds. The herd is typically composed of up to ten females and their young. All of the females in the herd are directly related to the matriarch, who is typically the oldest and largest female. Males beyond the age of maturity are with the herd only during mating. A herd is a group that may have ten or more elephants. It is usually led by a female elephant. Herds have been known to travel ten miles or even farther to look for food and water. When elephants travel, they walk very quietly in single file. Young elephants are led by the older elephants with their tails. They stay close to their mothers at all times. The entire herd will protect the young ones if there’s any sign of danger.
Elephants love water and are very good swimmers. When elephants get hot, they swim in lakes or rivers, or give themselves showers using their long trunks. An elephant can also cool off by rolling in a shady bed of mud.
Young elephants stay with their families for many years. It’s not unusual for a herd of elephants to live together all of their lives. Elephants are also capable of making low frequency sounds that are below the human range of hearing; this allows wandering individuals within the herd as well as several different herds to stay in direct contact over distances of many miles.
Elephant Facts … Did You know ?
Elephants stomp when they walk.
Elephants sleep standing up.
Sometimes baby elephants lie down to sleep.
Elephants bathe. Sometimes the spray dirt on themselves to get the parasites off. Sometimes they bathe in mud
Elephants live in herds.
They cool off by fanning their ears. This cools the blood in their ears. That blood goes to the rest of their body and cools off the elephant.
They poop 80 pounds in one day.
Elephants weigh 10,000 pounds. It would take 250 students to add up to 10,000 pounds.
They collect food with their trunks.
Only grown up ladies and their babies live in the herds.
The daddy elephants leave the herd when they are 12 years old.
They fight with their tusks.
They eat grass and bark.
During the wet season they eat things low to the ground.
During the dry season they use their trunk to gather food from trees and bushes.
They suck up water into their trunks and shoot it into their mouths.
Elephants need lots of room to roam and eat. (Some of us think that this must mean they are not happy in the zoo or in the circus.)
They can run 24mph for short distances.
More about African Elephants, African elephant pictures
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