Fun Elephant Facts!

Although elephants might all look the same at first glance, there are only two species of elephants that actually live on the earth – the Asian elephants and the African elephants. In our story, Thunder: An Elephant’s Journey, Thunder is an African pigmy elephant. The difference is not only in their geographic location, but Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants. Their ears are smaller, too. Only the male Asian elephants have tusks. African elephants are larger and have big, floppy ears shaped like the continent they come from – Africa! Both male and female African elephants have tusks.

Elephants are the largest land mammal. They are the one mammal that can’t jump. Adults weigh between 6,000 and 11,000 pounds. Think about it, that’s as heavy as a big truck or SUV. Elephants need to eat a lot to fuel those big bodies. In the wild, they eat up to 450 pounds of food each day. Elephants are herbivores. They eat plants, grass, tree bark, and of course, peanuts.

Here are some fun facts about elephants:

Elephants are the largest land animals in the world and can live to be over 70 years old. The largest elephant on record was an adult male African elephant. He weighed about 24,000 pounds and was 13 feet tall at the shoulder!

The average weight for an elephant heart is 27 to 46 pounds, and they have a slow pulse rate of 27, compared to a canary whose pulse rate is about 1000. The elephant’s brain is highly developed and the largest of all mammals. The brain is 3 to 4 times larger than that of humans.

A female elephant can reproduce at the age of 16, and they have the longest pregnancy of all animals. It takes a female 22 months from conception to give birth, that’s almost 2 years! At birth, an elephant calf weighs about 230 pounds. A female elephant rarely has more than four children throughout her lifetime.

Elephants have four molars, one on the top and one on the bottom on both sides of the mouth. One molar is the size of a brick and can weigh up to 5 pounds. The tusks are an elephant’s incisor teeth. They are used for lifting things, defense, and digging for water, and they prefer one tusk over the other, just like people are right or left handed.

An elephant has poor eyesight, but an incredible sense of smell. The elephants waive their trunks up in the air and from side to side to smell better. The trunk has more than 40,000 muscles in it, and is able to sense the size, shape and temperature of an object. They use their trunks to lift food and suck up water, then pour it into its mouth.

Elephants laugh, cry, play, and have incredible memories. They are highly sensitive and caring animals. If a baby complains, the entire family will rumble and go over to touch and caress it.  They are social creatures. They sometimes “hug” by wrapping their trunks together in displays of greeting and affection.

An elephant’s feet are covered in a soft padding that helps uphold their weight, prevent them from slipping, and dull any sound. They use their feet to listen. The elephant can pick up sub-sonic rumblings made by other elephants through vibrations in the ground.

Sadly, humans pose by far the greatest threat to the elephant. They have suffered from intensive hunting for the ivory of their tusks and as trophies. Many efforts have been made to outlaw hunting elephants for their tusks, but poaching still occurs on a regular basis. It is thought that from 1930-1940 there were 3 to 5 million African elephants roaming the continent. Now in Western Africa elephant populations are counted in the tens or hundreds.
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Elephant Fun Facts

Video by Free School