The elephant is one of the most easily recognisable animals in the whole wide world. African elephants and Asian elephants are true gentle giants. Many of us have seen them in zoos, and some of us have even been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitats. A gentle giant of nature, the elephant is a truly amazing creature, that without the help of conservationists and charities, could be completely wiped out within a matter of decades. The sad truth is that their habitats are being crushed to make way for infrastructure projects, and poachers are still taking aim to at these beautiful beasts to meet the demands of the illegal ivory trade. Charities like Elephants For Africa are working to conserve the elephants’ natural ecosystems, as well as promoting education across the globe, and learning more about elephants using dedicated research programmes.
Despite their huge size, African elephants are still smaller than the heaviest animal in the world. To find that animal, you’ll have to look to the sea. The water in the oceans of the world helps to support the incredible weight of the blue whale. With a length of up to 100 feet (30 meters) from head to tail, the largest blue whales can weigh in excess of 400,000 pounds (181,437 kilograms)! Just imagine how small you’d feel swimming next to that creature!
The elephant is the largest land animal on the planet. There are three kinds of elephants with scientist recently splitting the African elephant into two distinct species. The three elephant species are African savanna (or bush), African forest and Asian elephant. Let’s take a look at all three to see how much these giant creatures weigh.
General Elephant Facts
Did you know that the word “Elephant” is actually latin for “huge Arch”? These animals certainly are huge and impressive beasts. In fact, the elephant is the largest living land mammal in the world.A male elephant can grow up to 4 metres in height and weigh up to 7 tonnes; whilst their females counterparts can still weigh in at a mere 3.5 tonnes.
To feed an animal of such gigantic proportions takes a lot of food. Their daily food intake is almost as much as 4-7% of their body weight. When you are an elephant, that equates to finding and eating an awful lot of food. As you would expect, all that food needs to be digested and dozed off, which is why our elephant friends can deposit upwards of 150 kg of dung daily! Eew!
Elephants are herbivores and only eat grasses, herbs, fruit, plants and trees. Their healthy, vegetarian diet is obviously good for them as the average elephant has a life span of around 70 odd years, a bit like we do
Despite their size, they are actually pretty nimble and can walk up to 195 km per day, although they usually only average is only 25 km on a daily basis. They can also run faster than you would expect, easily reaching speeds of 40 mph, which is a lot faster than us humans can run.
Most people believe that there are only two species of elephant in the word, but in fact there are three:
- African savannah, Loxodonta africana
- African forest, Loxodonta cyclotis
- Asian, Elephas maximus
Where Do Elephants Come From?
The elephant originated in Africa and Asia, the only regions where wild populations are found today. The earliest elephant fossil remains date back 4 million years ago.
How Much Does An Elephant Weigh?
The largest male elephants can weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms). For comparison, an average male human weighs about 180 pounds (82 kilograms). How much do elephants weigh at birth? African elephants can weigh up to nearly 200 pounds when born!
Are Elephants Really The Largest Living Land Animal?
Yes, the African and Asian elephants are the largest living land animals. Males can stand up to 13 feet (4 meters) high at the shoulder.
What Is The Smallest Species Of Elephant?
The Borneo elephant, also known as the Bornean pygmy elephant, is the smallest species of elephant by size. Found in Asia, adult Bornean pygmy elephants stand at less than 5 feet (1.5 meters) high. These elephants can weigh up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms).
How Does An Elephant Use Its Trunk?
An elephant’s trunk is like a long, flexible nose. The trunk is used for drinking, bathing, smelling, breathing, trumpeting, and grabbing things. Elephants will also use their trunks to show affection.
Which Animals Prey On Elephants?
Lions, hyenas, and crocodiles all prey on baby elephants. Adult elephants have very few natural predators, though lions have been known to brazenly hunt elephants when desperate.
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
Are Elephants Afraid Of Mice?
While this myth about elephants being afraid of mice may be widespread, it’s hardly rooted in fact. While elephants may be startled by mice or other rodents, elephants are no more afraid of mice than other animals that might quickly scurry by.
How Do Elephants Give Birth?
Like other mammals, female elephants give birth to fairly developed babies via her birth canal.
An elephant pregnancy lasts around 22 months, meaning that new born baby elephants are not small! A baby elephant is called a calf and can weigh between 200 and 300 lbs and stand about 3 feet (1 m) tall.
How Many Babies Do Elephants Have?
Typically, elephants only give birth to one calf at a time, although twins do sometimes occur. In her lifetime (elephants can live for up to 70 years in the wild!), a female elephant can give birth to as many as 12 calves. Not as many as babies you might think? Well that’s because the average gestation (pregnancy) period for a female elephant is a whopping 22 months. That’s a long time!
How Many Teeth Do Elephants Have?
Elephants usually have 26 teeth at any one time. Throughout their lives, elephants have six sets of teeth that grow one set after another. By the time they reach their 50’s, most elephant have started to use their final set which is needed to last for the rest of their life.
Why Do Elephants Flap Their Ears?
African elephants are famous for their very large ears. They are designed this way to pump blood around them to help cool the elephant down under the hot African sun. The more the ears flap, the hotter the elephant is.
How Thick Is Elephant Skin?
The skin of an elephant can be up to 2.5 cm thick in places. Despite this, elephants have very sensitive skin and use mud and dust baths to protect their skin from burning in the sun, and to get rid of skin parasites.
How Far Do Elephants Walk In A Day?
Despite their massive size, elephants are actually pretty nimble and can walk up to 195 km per day, although they usually only average is only 25 km on a daily basis.
How Much Does An Elephant’s Brain Weigh?
Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures and an elephant’s brain can weigh as much as 4-6 kg. No wonder they say that an elephant never forgets!
Threats To Survival
Poaching for the illegal ivory trade is the biggest threat to African elephants’ survival. Before the Europeans began colonizing Africa, there may have been as many as 26 million elephants. By the early 20th century, their numbers had dropped to 10 million. Hunting continued to increase. By 1970, their numbers were down to 1.3 million. Between 1970 and 1990, hunting and poaching put the African elephant at risk of extinction, reducing its population by another half.