Elephant: What You Should Know

Elephants are mammals. They are the largest living in the country. The male is called a bull, the female is called a cow or elephant cow, and the young animal is called a calf.

The cows and calves live in herds. They roam around looking for grass and leaves to eat and water to drink. The males live alone or in small groups and only go to the females to have cubs.

There are fewer and fewer elephants in the world. People take their land away from them, or they shoot the elephants and saw off their tusks. They then sell them as valuable ivory.
Elephants are mammals. They are the largest living in the country. The male is called a bull, the female is called a cow or elephant cow, and the young animal is called a calf.

What do elephants look like?

A bull, a large male, grows to twice the height of a full-grown male and weighs as much as seven small cars, and six tons. Measured to the shoulder, elephants are four meters high. Their body can be five and a half to seven and a half meters long.

The elephant’s trunk is an elongated nose with nostrils. The proboscis is muscle-only and boneless. That’s why he’s very mobile. The elephant can not only breathe and smell with its trunk. He can also use it to grab things and, for example, stuff grass into his mouth. He can also use it to suck up water and squirt it into his mouth to drink.

Not all elephants have exactly the same skeleton. The spine can have 326 to 351 individual vertebrae from the neck to the tip of the tail. The heart only beats about 30 times per minute. That’s about half the speed of a human.

Elephants have bigger ears, thicker legs, and longer trunks and tusks than any other animal in the world. Their skin is about as thick as the finger of an adult human so the elephants are also called “pachyderms”. Nevertheless, the skin is very sensitive. The tusks were incisors in the early ancestors of elephants. They keep growing.

How do elephants live?

Elephants live in herds. However, this only includes cows and young animals, not adult bulls. Such a herd is led by an experienced elephant cow. The cow protects the group by showing that she would attack if necessary: ​​she spreads her ears wide and raises her snout.

The adult bulls usually live alone or in groups that break up and reassemble again and again. They only approach the herds of cows to mate.

Elephants are purely vegetarian. They prefer to eat grass and leaves, but also branches and other plants. They need about 200 kilograms of it every day. They drink over 100 liters of water.

Elephants sleep less than humans. They need all the time to eat. They also have to walk a long way to do this. Although they are slow, they are very persistent. That’s why it’s difficult to keep elephants in a zoo because it’s very cramped for them.

When it is very hot and to care for their skin, they like to take a bath or spray water over their backs with their trunks. When it’s hot, they fan their ears to cool themselves down.

How do elephants breed?

Elephants can have young at any time of the year. However, the cow must have enough food to be willing. After mating with a bull, the cow is pregnant for almost two years. In the case of the animals, this means “pregnant” because the mother is carrying a young animal in her belly. Twins are rare.

At birth, a baby elephant weighs about 100 kilograms, about the same as a heavy man. It can get up immediately. For four years he eats and drinks nothing but his mother’s milk. They drink it straight through their mouths. Unlike most mammals, the female elephant carries her breasts between her front legs.

It takes a young elephant about 20 years to mature. From around the age of 40, an elephant cow can no longer have babies. However, she lives on for another 20 years. This is very rare in animals. In total, elephants live to be around 60 years old.

How are elephants different?

Two main groups of elephants are still alive today: the African elephant and its close relative, the forest elephant, who lives in Africa. The Asian elephant lives in Asia.

The African elephant is heavier than the Asian elephant. His skin is wrinkled. Bulls and cows have tusks. Many bulls in Asiatic elephants have tusks. The cows have no or only tiny tusks. African elephants also have larger ears.

Indian elephants can be trained to carry heavy loads. Most of the time they do the work that a tractor does in our forest, for example hauling tree trunks. African elephants, on the other hand, are more difficult to tame.

There used to be more species of elephants in the world. For example, there were mammoths in Europe and mastodons in America. They had fur and the body looked a little different. During the Ice Age, there were even pygmy elephants on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea. These are all extinct today.

Are the elephants endangered?

Elephants have almost no natural enemies. Only rarely do lions or tigers succeed in chasing and eating a cub. Despite this, there are far fewer elephants today than there used to be.

30 years ago there were still many millions of elephants living in Africa, especially in the savannah. Today there are still about half a million. Hunters often kill elephants just for the tusks. It’s forbidden almost everywhere. Many people like this ivory as a piece of jewelry because it is very smooth and easy to carve.

In Asia, too, there used to be more elephants. The whole south of Asia knew elephants, today there are only a few areas in India and some other countries like Indonesia. In the wild today, there are still about 50,000. In addition, there are Asian elephants in captivity, for example in zoos.

Because elephants need so long for a young animal to grow up, they can only breed very slowly. Humans are also taking more and more land away from them, making life even more difficult for the elephants.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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