Source by: Nature
It’s so beautiful and diverse in the animal kingdom. The kingdom is home to incredible creatures with even more incredible features and traits. The diversity goes beyond color, functions, and species to sizes, shapes, and behavioral attributes. In fact, it’s safe to say humans can never fully explore the mysterious kingdom of animals.
In this article, we will explore this kingdom with relation to its size and consider the largest land animal on earth. Yes, you guessed right! It’s The Elephant. While Elephants might not be at the apex of the food chain, they are, without doubt, at the apex in terms of size. And apart from being the world’s largest land animal, Elephants do have some impressive features and behaviors. Indeed, you’ve probably not heard of some of these behaviors.
So, let’s consider some interesting elephant facts and see the beauty and magnificence of this animals.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Introduction and Species
Source by: AZAnimals
Weighing up to 6000 kg (6.6 tons) and measuring over 3.3 m (10 ft.) at the shoulder, these beautiful creatures, Elephants, are the largest land animals on earth. Known for their gentle attitude and intelligence, elephants are majestic, admired and have been studied for many years.
In the world today, there are two extant elephant species: African and Asian elephants. Some genetic studies further suggest that the African elephant is two separate species: Savanna elephants and Forest elephants.
Source by: Treehugger
The African elephant population migrates across dense forests and arid deserts in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast, Asian elephants roam forests and grasslands in India and Southeast Asia.
Of the two main species, the African elephants are the biggest, with a height range of eight to 13 feet and weigh over six and a half tons. Similarly, Asian elephants weigh up to six tons and can grow to over 11 feet tall.
Source by: The Conversation
Both species, Asian and African, of elephants, have life spans of 60 to 70 years. Interestingly, despite our long history studying elephants, there is much to learn about these complex creatures. From their ability to distinguish languages to their altruistic behavior. Let’s move on.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Elephant' Body Features and Functions
Source by: The New York Times
Elephants are Mammals. This means that they have hair, give birth to live young and feed their babies milk. They have large, thin ears that help cool them down and have long, powerful trunks. Let’s talk a little more about their trunks.
Elephants’ trunks are powerful and versatile and can grow to be about six feet long. The trunk is a blend of the upper lip and nose, and it is used for smelling, breathing, detecting vibrations, caressing their young, sucking up water, and grasping and sensing the temperature of objects.
The tip of their trunk comprises two opposable extensions, or fingers, which allow for extreme dexterity.
Both female and male African elephants have tusks which are modified incisor teeth. They are mainly used to help find and dig for food. Usually, elephants are born with tusks, but the “baby tusks” fall off after about twelve months and then are replaced with permanent ones.
Source by: Treehugger
The tusks will continue to grow throughout the elephant’s life. And just like the trunk, elephant tusks are utilized in a wide range of activities; they include digging, foraging, and fighting. At times, they also act as a resting place for the elephant’s very heavy trunk. By the way, it should be noted that only the male Asian elephant has tusks; the female doesn’t.
The elephants’ ears are another interesting feature with impressive abilities and purposes. The African elephant, for example, uses its large ears with a large surface area to radiate excess heat under the scorching African sun.
Source by: Wikimedia
More so, the ears are also often used to communicate visually. Just flapping their ears can signify either aggression or joy. And the most impressive fact about their ears is the ability, in conjunction with the soles of their feet and their trunk, to hear sounds over long distances.
On average, an elephant can hear another elephant’s call at 4 km (2.5 mi.) away. In fact, ideally, their hearing range can be increased to 10 km (6.2 mi.). Very incredible, you’d agree!
Elephants are capable of producing and perceiving sounds one to two octaves lower than the human hearing limit. And they mostly communicate through low-frequency sounds called “rumbling,” although they make a vast range of sounds (10 octaves).
Furthermore, elephants have the ability to judge the distance from another elephant based on the pitch of their call. As the sound travels over distances, the higher tones will fade out, leaving a lower pitch.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Where do elephants live?
Source by: Euronews
While elephants are common in zoos all over the world, they naturally live in Africa and Asia.
Preferably, elephants stay near water but can be found in different habitats like savannahs, marshes, deserts, and forests.
Elephant Facts for Kids: What do elephants like to eat?
Source by: Pin
Elephants are plant-eaters (Herbivores). Considering their large size, it’s understandable that they need to eat lots of plants to get full. In fact, they can spend up to 16 hours a day collecting and eating leaves, twigs, bamboo, and roots.
A full-grown elephant can eat around 500 lb of food every day and drink about 50 gallons of water per day. Interestingly, they eat a lot more than they can digest and can only make use of 40% of the food they eat.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Elephant Calves
Source by: Happymag
Baby Elephants are called calves. Calves are about 3 feet tall and weigh 250-300 lb. Some African baby elephants, weighing over 350 lb, are heavier than most adult lions.
A single calf is born to a female once every four to five years and after a gestation period of 22 months—the longest of any mammal.
An elephant calf can stand within 20 minutes of birth and walk with the herd within an hour. Elephants are social, emotional beings that care for their young as a group. Mothers and aunts take time to tend and care for their young ones.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Do elephants live together?
Source by: Pin
Elephants move in herds. Usually, female elephants spend their entire lives living together with other females and calves. The group/herd is led by a single elephant, known as the matriarch, which is usually the oldest female.
It is particularly essential for young elephants to spend time with older family members, especially the matriarchs, so they can learn all that they’ll need to know as adults. The matriarch of the herd carries the knowledge of the elders and shares essential information with the young, including how to respond to a variety of dangers and where to find food and water.
An elephant herd can have 8-100 elephants.
Male elephants are not left out too. They live with the herd until they are about 13 years old. Once they get to this age, they leave the pack and mainly live alone for the rest of their life. Elephants can live up to 70 years old in the wild.
Elephant Facts for Kids: They Never Forget
Source by: Netimpactamsterdam
Not only is the elephant the largest land animal, but also they have the largest brain. And their memory is remarkable. Elephants have the ability to recall distant watering holes, other elephants, and humans they have encountered — even after the passage of many years.
More so, they can also recall the path to sources of food and how to reach alternative areas should the need arise.
More interestingly, they transmit this wealth of knowledge from generation to generation through the matriarchs, and this sharing of information has been beneficial to the creatures’ survival.
Elephant Facts for Kids: Do any predators go after elephants?
Source by: Theconversation
Elephants have no natural predators in the wild, although sometimes lions will attack young or weak elephants in the herd. However, the biggest threat to elephants is humans.
Humans hurt elephants by poaching them for their ivory tusks, as well as by changing or destroying their habitat. In fact, African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago to some 400,000. In recent years, at least 20,000 elephants have been killed in Africa each year for their tusks. African forest elephants have been the worst hit.
The Asian Elephants, on the other hand, are rapidly losing their habitats and ancient migratory routes due to expanding human settlements into their habitat, agricultural development, and the construction of infrastructures such as roads, canals, and fences that fragment their habitat, and this results in human-elephant conflict.
Currently, the African elephant is labeled as Vulnerable, while the Asian elephant is labeled as Endangered.
16 Quick Interesting Elephant Facts
Source by: Openaccessgovernment
- Elephants can breathe underwater using their trunks. They are great swimmers and can swim long distances (up to 30 miles).
- Elephants tusks are made of ivory and are, in fact, teeth that grow throughout their lives.
- Their skin is around 2-3 cms thick.
- Elephants communicate through trumpet calls.
- Elephants are said to possess excellent memory, as they have a large dense temporal lobe in their brain.
- Elephants may be large, but they can still run fast and reach speeds of 25 miles an hour.
- 90% of African elephants have been killed in the past 100 years, mainly for the ivory trade. It is estimated that there are only around 415,000 wild African elephants left today.
- On average, each elephant produces one ton of dung per week and plays a role in keeping the soil fertile.
- Elephants are emotional. They cry when upset and a trumpet when happy or angry.
- Elephants spray mud on themselves to protect their thick skin from bugs and ticks.
- Elephants are fearful of bees. African farmers use beehives to keep elephants out.
- Elephants are gentle animals whose intelligence is similar to apes and chimpanzees. They are the largest land mammal, and many of them live together in social herds and families.
- Although humans threaten many elephants, they can also be saved by humans. It is up to us to spread awareness about these beautiful creatures.
- Elephants who experience tragedy, like witnessing a family member being killed by poachers, have been found to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Long after an animal has died, elephants will return and touch the remaining bones with their feet and trunks just to honor the dead.
- To counteract the damaging rays of the sun, elephants throw sand on themselves. Adult elephants will also douse youngsters with dust. When coming out of a bath in a river, elephants will often throw mud on themselves as a layer of protection.
Source by: Onlydinosaurs
You’d agree, the elephant is indeed unique and incredible. This article is not exhaustive! There are more interesting elephant facts. However, we hope you’ve learned one or two things about this sentient creature and, probably, now sees the animal as the extraordinary creature it is.
What else do you know about elephants? Leave a comment here!