EleFacts & Elephantrivia

A collection of facts and beliefs about elephants culled from readings and observations.
An elephant's pregnancy lasts for about twenty-two months
from conception to birth.
An elephant normally gives birth to one calf.
Twins occur, but rarely.
A new born elephant usually weighs between 180 and 300 pounds.
A typical adult elephant weighs between 6,000 and 12,000 lbs.
An elephant killed in Angola in 1956 weighed 26,000 lbs.
Elephants are typically 8 to 12 feet tall at the shoulder.
The adult elephant is the largest animal living on land. Giraffes are taller but nowhere near the body mass of an elephant. Even hippos and rhinos weigh far less than an elephant.
An elephant cycles through six sets teeth during its lifetime.
Each tooth weighs about 9 lbs.
Normal maximum lifespan in the wild 60-80 years.
Life ends when the last teeth wear out it dies of starvation.
Elephants have no natural predators other than humans who hunt them for ivory. Babies and sickly old animals are sometimes killed by carnivores .. lions or tigers.
Male elephants leave the herd around age fourteen and thereafter roam with other males or alone. The herds are entirely female adults and children both male and female. Males appear only for mating or to help defend a herd/family.
An adult male elephant is called a 'bull'; an adult female a 'cow' and a young elephant of either gender is a 'calf'.
In the wild elephants are herbivorous. They eat grass, leaves, shrubs, tree branches. In captivity they eat mostly hay laced with vitamins and treats of fruits and vegetables.
An adult elephant eats roughly 300 pounds of food each day and excretes 168 lbs of waste.
To get enough food an elephant will forage 16-20 hours every day, walking many miles if necessary.
An elephant will drink 15-20 gallons water each day if water is available. A thirsty elephant can drink 50 gallons.
When an elephant drinks, it sucks water up into its trunk then discharges it into its mouth.
An elephant can smell water three miles away.
Adults sleep while standing; juveniles lie down.
An elephant's brain weighs around 10 lbs 0.2 to 0.1% of its body weight. Compare to human brain averaging 2.0 to 2.5% of body weight. No other animal comes close.
The elephant has the largest brain of any creature that ever lived on the earth.
Elephant tusks are actually very long teeth ... upper incisors.
Elephant tusks are their tools. They use them to: dig for salt, strip bark from trees, and defend or fight.
An elephant favors left or right tusk in the same manner as humans are left or right handed.
In African elephant males and females have tusks. In Asian elephants only males usually have visible tusks.
An elephant's ears are used to cool it internally. Waving them through the air chills the thousands of blood vessels in the thin membrane.
An elephant spreads its ears as a warning that it is prepared to attack if necessary.
African elephant's ears resemble the outline shape of the continent of Africa, and are much larger than the ears of the Asian.
Asian elephant's ears resemble the outline shape of the subcontinent of India.
In addition to sound receptors in the ears, elephants have receptors in their trunks. They also "hear" through their feet when infra sound (ultra low frequency) waves travel through ground. They communicate with trumpeting and roaring in nearby situations but send infrasound messages across great distances.
An elephant's trunk is strong enough to rip branches from a tree and sensitive enough to pluck a single blade of grass from the ground.
The tip of the trunk acts as a finger; the Asian species has one, the African has two.
When elephants meet up with family or friends they entwine their trunks ... elephant style hugging.
An elephant's trunk has so many olfactory receptors it has keener smell than a bloodhound.
An elephant's trunk has 40,000 main muscles, over 100,00 subgroups of muscles.
When it walks, the elephant moves it trunk side to side along the ground testing before it steps forward.
Some captive elephants have taken up painting as a mental stimulus in enrichment programs. Asians appear to be better artists than Africans.
An elephant's skin is about an inch thick except around its mouth. Despite the thickness, the skin is sensitive to insect bites. It coats its body with dust or mud as a protective coat.
Elephants have toenails. Africans have three on each hind foot; four on each front foot. Asians have four on each hind foot and five on each front foot. In the wild their nails are kept trimmed by miles of daily walking. In captivity, keepers mu give them pedicures.
An elephant can run 18-25 mph, really a fast walk; but can't gallop
Elephants can't jump! So, they are unable to cross a narrow ditch. On the other hand, they are great soccer [football] players.
The elephant can't turn its head to look behind ... must rotate entire body.
Elephants/Mammoths have been depicted in cave drawings from 15,000 BC or earlier.
Elephants have been depicted on stone seals in Mohenjo-daro, Indus Valley, from 2000 BC. This photo is of a stone seal which made an excellent likeness of an elephant. The photo is unattributed and widely available on numerous web pages.
Elephants have been depicted on coins since 300 BC or earlier. Numerous Roman Empire coins depicted an elephant as did this example purportedly from a Carthaginian coin showing Hannibal on an elephant. [The internet abounds with such photos. This one, from wikipedia is copyright free.]
In 218 BC Hannibal crossed the Alps with 37 elephants in the Second Punic War. [My little animation looks more like ants than elephants but what can you do in a one inch square space?]
To the delight of roaring crowds, elephants appeared in circuses 2,000 years ago in Rome's Coliseum.
Possibly the most famous elephant ever displayed in America was Phineas T Barnum's "Jumbo" which he purchased from the London Zoo amidst great controversy. This small image is of a 19th century poster advertising the biggest elephant in the world, shown with 30 people on his back. Poster is in the curator's collection. Copyright expired.
[Visit this site to learn more about many elephants recorded in history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_historical_elephants ]

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