Having a baby is a relatively large commitment for elephants. These mammals already do not sleep much as they have to constantly roam around in order to find enough food to feed their massive bodies; elephants consume approximately 300 pounds of food a day. Having a baby elephant requires more food, and elephants carry their babies for almost 22 months. Mother elephants, referred to as cows, give birth to one baby elephant every 2 to 4 years.

Generally speaking, it is around 100 Kg (220 lb). I suppose that there must be some variation accordingly to the sex of the calf, being males heavier, but I haven’t found data regarding this point. But weights also vary accordingly to the final weight of the species of the elephant, and there are three extant species of elephants, two from African and one from Asian:

“Don’t be a big baby!” Sounds like an insult, but in the case of baby elephants, it can actually be a compliment.The average (human) baby boy born in America weighs 7.5 lbs (boys typically weigh a little more than girls). Baby elephants are much larger. Let’s dive into how much baby elephants weigh.

Baby Elephant Facts

Baby elephants are cute – there are no two ways about that. But, they are also highly evolved and one of the most advanced species when it comes to their new born capabilities. Female elephants (also called “cows”) have the longest gestation period of all mammals, lasting as long as 23 months! After spending so long being nurtured by their mummies bellies, it’s no surprise that baby elephants are pretty smart little babies when they are finally welcomed to the world.

A baby elephant is called a calf and can weigh around 200 lbs (91 kg) and stand about 3 feet (1 m) tall. They can’t see very well when they are born, but much like human babies, they can recognise their mothers by touch, scent, and sound. For the first few months, the babies stay very close to their mothers for food, warmth and support. They are hungry little things too, and can consume as much as 3 gallons of their mothers milk every day. Weaning is not a speedy process for elephants either, as babies can continue to drink their mothers milk until they are as much as 10 years old.

Luckily, the female elephant community is social and supportive, with young calves being tended to not only by their mothers, but also by other females in the herd. When a new baby is born, all of the females in the group trumpet the news and announce the new arrival. Within minutes of being born, the calf must stand on its own four feet, literally. Calves need to be upright in order to reach their mothers milk, otherwise they will perish.

For the first year of their lives, their trunks are not something they are able to control very well. Much like human babies, elephants learn their behaviour from parents and older family member, including how to put their trunks to good use.

What Is A Baby Elephant Called?

A baby elephant is called a calf, just like a baby cow. Adult males are called bulls, and adult females are called cows. Despite the terms, elephants aren’t closely related to cows. Well, that’s not entirely true. They’re related to sea cows, a colloquial term for dugongs and manatees. But the term ‘calf’ is used to describe lots of animal babies, from aardvarks to antelope, whales to walruses, and many more.

Baby elephants may not be unique when it comes to their name. But, if there was an award for cuteness, elephant calves would be right at the top.

Calves At Birth

On average, newborn calves stand about 1 m (3 ft.) high and weigh 120 kg (264 lb.) at birth. Newborn male African elephants may weigh up to 165 kg (364 lb.). Newborn Asian elephant calves weigh about 91 kg (200 lb.). The newborn is helped to its feet by its mother and other females. Calves are able to stand on their own within minutes of birth.

The mother and other females help guide the calf to nurse almost immediately. The trunk of the calf is still short, so it uses its mouth to nurse. Calves are able to walk within one to two hours of birth. Within two days, calves are strong enough to join the rest of the herd, which is waiting patiently nearby.

How Much Do Baby Elephants Weight?

A newborn elephant. It looks tiny next to a parent but can weigh more than 200 pounds! Baby elephants weigh around 200 lbs at birth and over the next 20 years grow to be 8,000 -15,000 lbs! They can reach a height of 10-13 feet! Depending on the kind and gender of elephant, babies can start out as “little” as 150 lbs or be as big as 360 lbs.

Here are some baby elephant records to give you perspective on just how big baby elephants can get:

The largest baby elephant ever born at the San Diego Zoo was a 281 pound calf. It was born in September, 2018. On May 12, 2020 the Houston Zoo welcomes an even bigger baby elephant. The male Asian elephant calf was 326 pounds!

Baby elephants grow fast! For example, Tucson welcomes a baby elephant in 2020 and within nine months it weighed 900 pounds! The juvenile elephant was gaining about 85 pounds per month! Amazingly, despite the size of elephant calves, twins are possible. Elephants have twins about 1% of time, compared to humans that have twins 3.21% of pregnancies.

Calf Development

Mothers, aunts, sisters, and the matriarch are very important to calf development. The pace of the herd is adjusted, so the young can keep up. Calves learn which plants are edible and ways to acquire them, by watching their elders. Mothers and aunts are in almost constant affectionate contact with the young, offering guidance and assistance.

Calves nurse for the first six months of life. Elephant milk is high in fat and protein (100 times more than the protein contained in cow’s milk). On average, calves drink about 10 L (21 pt.) a day.

Calves begin to experiment with their developing trunks between four and six months of age by picking grasses and leaves to supplement their diet. Weaning from milk gradually follows this process. Calves are not completely weaned until they are over two years of age and may weigh between 850-900 kg (1,874-1,984 lb.).

How Long Is An Elephant Pregnancy?

Spare a thought for elephant mothers. Not only do they give birth to the world’s largest baby (on land), they have the longest gestation period of all mammals. An African elephant’s gestation period is up to 22 months, slightly longer than an Asian elephant’s. No wonder the calves are heavier than a human when they’re born. Baby elephants heavily rely on their mothers after birth and still don’t have a fully developed brain.

Do All Elephants Have Tusks?

Both male and female African elephants have tusks, but only male Asian elephants have tusks. Tusks are used as a tool for digging, gathering food, and defending themselves. Elephant tusks are highly prized in the ivory trade, resulting in illegal elephant poaching. IFAW is working in Asia and Africa to reduce market supply and consumer demand for elephant ivory, where the demand is highest. Learn how you can help protect elephants.

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