Elephants are the largest terrestrial animals that exist in the world. Only whales are larger however as we all know they live in the ocean. There are two types of elephants.
They are the African elephant and the Asian elephant. Elephants can live up to 65 years in the wild but only an average of 33 years in captivity. They can stand 13 feet high and weigh as much as 15,500 pounds.
These are very large animals who are intelligent, live in family units, and are lead by the oldest in the unit.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants are herbivores, meaning that they eat vegetation primarily and will take fruit when available. They are massive eaters and can process about 300 pounds of plant material in a single day. Their digestive efficiency is actually quite low, hence the large requirement for plant material.
Wild elephants are herbivores and primarily browse plant material and any fruit when they can get it. They spend about 18 hours a day feeding on grasses, small plants, bushes twigs, tree bark, and roots.
At your local zoo where most of us will see elephants for the first time, they are fed oat grass, bamboo, and various fruits and vegetables. They also like Tree bark which they strip from trees using their tusks. You may have seen an elephant at the Zoo consume an entire watermelon in one gulp! This is one of their favorite foods.
Adult female elephants are pregnant for 22 months and bear a calf that could weigh as much as 200 pounds. The new calf must be able to stand suckle within one hour of being born. The mother and new calf must be able to join the elephant herd within a short time of being born for protection as well as to be accepted by the herd as one of them.
Elephants also require a lot of water every day. They will consume between 70 to 100 L or 18 to 26 gallons of water on a daily basis. Large male elephants can drink up to 200 L in less than five minutes. In the zoo, there is always water available. In the wild, they generally live close to a water source and will visit the water source once o twice a day.
An interesting fact about elephant teeth
Elephants never stop growing and as a result, their head and jaw continue to grow throughout life. Their teeth come in sequentially and move like a conveyor belt from the back to the front.
As one tooth wears out it is either spit out or swallowed. The final teeth and there are six can be the size of a large loaf of bread. Their final teeth will last more than 30 years! These large teeth are used to grind plant material and bark prior to swallowing their food.
Elephants are truly amazing animals. They are on the endangered species list and must be protected. Their tusks are valued for the ivory. Many are killed every year by poachers.