Environment

Fun Elephant Facts

Learn about elephants - the world's largest land animals.

Elephants are among the most interesting animals to study. They are popular for their large ears, trunks, and tusks that are made of ivory. Elephants are known to be the world’s largest land animals! Discover 10 other interesting facts about elephants. 

10. How much does an elephant really weigh?

The weight of the elephants depends on the type of elephant. For African elephants which may grow as tall as 3-4 meters, they weigh from 4,000–7,500 kilograms. On the other hand, the Asian elephants weigh from 3,000-6,000 kilograms as they are relatively smaller than the African elephants. A newborn elephant baby may weigh up to 118 kilograms.

9. Wait…how are elephants even weighed?

Elephants can be weighed by either using a weighing scale or a given formula. There are portable truck scales that can be used to weigh the elephants. On the other hand, to use the weight formula, one must measure the circumference of one of the elephant’s footpads, the length of the area around its body by measuring the area behind the front legs, and then measure the length of the elephant. Once one has the three figures, they will use the formula: (11.5 x hearth girth) + (7.55 x length) + (12.5 x pad circumference) – 4016 = elephant’s weight.

8. How long do elephants live?

Typically, the lifespan of elephants is between 50 and 70 years. However, the oldest elephant to have lived existed for 86 years. This elephant was an Asian elephant called Lin Wang.

7. Where do elephants live?

Elephants naturally live in forests and savannas found in the continents of Africa and Asia. However, some of them have adapted to life in the Namib and Sahara deserts as well as zoos.

6. Are elephants endangered?

The Asian elephants are categorized by the IUCN Red List as “Endangered” whereas the African elephants are under the list of the “Vulnerable” species. In 2012, estimates placed the total elephant population at 440,000. The elephants face the threat of being hunted by humans who seek to trade the ivory in their tusks. Ivory has been used for centuries to make piano keys and billiard balls among other valuables. World Elephant Day is celebrated on August 12th each year to spread awareness about elephant conservation.

5. Do female elephants have tusks?

All the elephants that inhabit the African continent have tusks: both female and male. However, in Asia, only male elephants have tusks. 50% of the female Asian elephants have small tusks known as tushes.

4. How many bones are in an elephant trunk?

An elephant’s trunk is a fusion of its nose and upper lips. It is made up of no bones. However, it consists of over 40,000 muscles that are further divided into 150,000 units.

3. What was the biggest elephant who ever lived?

The largest elephant to have ever existed lived in Angola and weighed about 10,886 kilograms.

2. What is the difference between an Asian elephant and an African elephant?

The first difference between Asian and African elephants is the shape and size of their ears. It is said that the ears of Asian elephants resemble the shape of India while the ears of the African elephants look like the shape of the map of the African continent. The African elephants’ ears are much bigger and larger compared to those of their Asian counterparts. Secondly, the Asian elephant tusks are smaller compared to the African elephant tusks. Thirdly, African elephants are bigger and heavier than the Asian elephants. Whereas the African elephants weigh between 4000 and 7500 kilograms, the Asian elephants weigh between 3,000 and 6000 kilograms. The African elephants grow up to 4 meters tall while the Asian elephants do not grow more than 3.5 meters tall. With reference to the skin of the elephants, African elephants’ skin is more wrinkled than those of the Asian elephants. The wrinkled skin help in containing moisture that provides a cooling effect in the heat of the sun as well as protects the elephants from parasites. Lastly, the trunks of the Asian elephants have one “finger” while those of the African elephants have two “fingers.”

1. How smart are elephants?

Research indicates that the brains of elephants are three to four times larger than that of human beings. Studying these animals reveals that they are quite intelligent as they have developed ways of even protecting themselves from the scorching sun. After taking a bath, they use their trunks to throw mud on the back of their bodies. The mud dries and acts as a sunscreen for the elephants. Besides, elephants often display compassion, self-awareness, compassion, and altruism. Furthermore, elephants can engage in plays, music, and art. Elephants also recognize themselves in a mirror.

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