Elephants are the biggest land animals in the world. Elephants belong to the family Elephantidae. Elephants are mammals as well as herbivores, meaning they only eat plants rather than meat. They can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. The African elephant is found on the continent of Africa and the Indian elephant is found in Asia.
Types of Elephants
There are two main types of elephants; the African elephant and the Indian or Asian elephant
1.) The African Elephant- The African elephant has large ears that are shaped like the continent of Africa. Both the males and females have tusks. This type of elephant has wrinkly gray skin, a swayed back and two tips at the end of its trunk that they can use like fingers to pick stuffs up.
2.) The Indian or Asian elephant- The Asian or Indian elephant is smaller than the African elephant. They have smaller ears, usually only the males have visible tusks. Their skin is less wrinkly and they have one “finger” at the end of their trunks. This type of elephant has a dome-shaped back.
An Elephant’s Appearance
Elephants are truly gigantic animals. They can grow to 11 feet tall and can weigh up to 13,000 pounds. Elephants have many interesting features including giant ears, long tusks, and a huge trunk. Their tusks can be up to 10 feet tall and can be used to dig or scrape the bark off the tree. An elephant’s tusk continues to grow for life.
Elephants use their trunks to pick up food and also to get food from tall branches. This mammal uses its trunk to drink water and to suck up water to spray themselves for a bath. An elephant’s trunk can also be used for smelling. An elephant’s appetite is very much big as their size. They eat up to 400 pounds and drink up to 30 gallons of water each day.
A baby elephant is called a calf. Calves are born 85 cm (33 in) tall and weigh around 120 kg (260 lb). Typically, only a single young is born, but twins sometimes occur. Like all mammals the babies feed off their mother’s milk. For its first three months, the calf relies on the mother. After a year, a calf's abilities to groom, drink, and feed itself are fully developed. It still needs its mother for nutrition and protection from predators for at least another year.
Touching is an important form of communication among elephants. Individuals greet each other by stroking or wrapping their trunks; the latter also occurs during mild competition. Individuals of any age and sex will touch each other's mouths, and genitals, particularly during meetings or when excited. Older elephants use trunk-slaps, kicks and shoves to discipline younger ones. Touching is especially important for mother–calf communication. When moving, elephant mothers will touch their calves with their trunks or feet when side-by-side or with their tails if the calf is behind them. Elephants will try to appear more threatening by raising their heads and spreading their ears.
|Elephants greeting each other|
Fun Facts about Elephants
- The African elephant has ears shaped like the continent of Africa.
- An elephant's skin can be up to one inch thick, but it is also very sensitive.
- They have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing and sense of smell.
- They can hear each other calls up to 5 miles away.
- They will throw sand and dirt on their backs to keep from getting sunburned.
- Male elephants, or bulls, live alone once they become adults. However, the females, or cows, live in tight family groups led by the oldest female, called a matriarch.
- Elephants have a highly developed brain and the largest of all the land mammals.
- Elephant feet are covered in a soft padding that help uphold their weight, prevent them from slipping, and dull any sound.
- Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all the animals. It takes a female 22 months from conception to give birth.
- An elephant is smart enough to recognise itself in a mirror.
- The average weight for an elephant heart is about 27 to 46 pounds!
- Only one mammal can’t jump — the elephant.
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