35+ Interesting Facts About Elephants

  1. African bush elephant, Asian elephant, and African forest elephant are the three largest animals on land.
  2. African bush and forest elephants were considered the same species till 2010. They were later confirmed as separate species after a genetic study in 2010. 
  3. An elephant can lift 350 kg of weight and hold up to 8.5 liters of water in its trunk.
  4. There are around 40,000 muscles and 150,000 muscle fascicles in the elephant’s trunk, but it is without bones. The trunk is the most sensitive part of the elephant’s body. An elephant can die in case of any damage to this body part. (Source)
  5. Elephants can inhale water through their trunks at a speed of 540 km/h. it is 30 times faster than the speed of our sneeze. (Source)
  6. The oldest elephant in captivity died at 86 years of age. This Asian elephant expired in February 2003 in Taiwan. The average lifespan for Asian elephants is 60 years. (Source)
  7. The gestation period of a female elephant is up to 22 months (95 weeks), the longest among all mammals. (Source)
  8. Elephant milk contains an extremely high amount of amino acid glucosamine which is vital for bones. This amino acid in elephant’s milk is 128 times higher than in cow’s milk and 14 times more than in human milk. (Source)
  9. In contrast to most animals that retain their permanent teeth after childhood, elephants usually replace their teeth six times in their life.
  10. Unlike several other animals, elephants can’t trot or jump.
  11. Elephants can identify humans by their voices. It helps them to realize how much danger a person can be. (Source)
  12. Elephants are present only in Africa (two species of African elephants) and Asia (Asian elephants).
  13. Asian female elephants are either tuskless or have very short tusks.
  14. Tusks are overgrown teeth that perform several functions in elephants. They are used for digging, defense, lifting objects, stripping bark from trees for food, and protecting the trunk. Like dominant sides in humans, elephants are also right-tusked or left-tusked.
  15. Although many other animals also contain tusks, elephant tusks are mainly used to prepare ivory.
  16. In just three years (2010-2012), poachers killed more than 100,000 African elephants for the illegal ivory trade. This campaign also vanished 64% of elephants from central Africa in just a decade. (Source
  17. Studies have proved that elephants are as intelligent as dolphins, great apes, and magpies. The intelligence of elephants is equal to that of 2 years old human child. (Source)
  18. Elephants use mud on their skin as a protective layer against UV light. (Source
    An elephant covering skin with mud
    Elephants use mud as protection against UV light

  19. According to a common assumption, elephants are afraid of the mouse as the small mammal can crawl into the elephant’s trunk. But research proves that mice produce no danger to elephants, and they are not afraid of them. Elephants can be surprised if a small animal (mouse, cat, dog, etc.) passes through its legs suddenly. (Source)
  20. A study has proved that elephants are afraid of bees. Elephants can detect pheromones released by angry honeybees. According to reports, elephants avoid active beehives. (Source
  21. Elephants were also utilized as a powerful war instrument in history. They were most famously used by Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca in the Second Punic War when he crossed the Alps along with elephants.
  22. Elephants are one of few placental mammals with testes inside their abdomen. Research has proved unlike other mammals with this feature, elephants have functional genes that cause the descent of testes. Therefore, the cause of internal sex organs in elephants is still unknown. (Source)
  23. Apart from size, Asian and African elephants have other differences as well. The most prominent difference is the larger ears of African elephants as compared to the smaller and rounder ears of their Asian counterparts. Both elephants also have different heads, trunks, skin textures, and the number of toenails. (Source)  
  24. Elephants are herbivores that eat grasses, small plants, fruits, roots, etc. They spend around 80% of their day eating more than 150 kg of vegetation. Tree bark is their favorite food. They also drink around 150 L of water every day.
  25. According to research, elephants use more than 70 sounds and 160 visual and tactile gestures for communication. Famous sounds are vocal calls, trumpet calls, growling, low-frequency sounds, etc. Other communication tactics include touching, smelling, synchronized freezing, etc. (Source)
  26. Elephants have an extremely sharp memory. These animals can easily remember former friends, risks, droughts, and other experiences even after decades. (Source)
  27. Elephants have wrinkled skin that absorbs and retains more water than ordinary skin. It helps keep the body cool for longer and compensates for very few sweat glands. African elephants have more wrinkled skin as compared to Asian elephants.
  28. There are several ways to identify the age of elephants. These include their gender (males are about twice larger than females), shoulder height, and length of their back and tusks.
  29. Elephants are better for soil as compared to cattle and medium-sized wildlife. They keep the soil fertile by defecating in areas where they graze. Along with that, elephants also provide nutrients to the ground by knocking over trees that later decompose. (Source)
  30. Elephants provide several benefits to the environment where they live. They dig dry riverbeds when rain is insufficient. These water holes are beneficial for other animals. Elephants also make room for smaller animals by crushing thick forests and grasslands. These mammals also assist in new plant growth by dispersing seeds in their dung. (Source)
  31. Mount Elgon is the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa. Elephants use their tusks to get salt from this cave to replenish their sodium requirements. (Source)
  32. Like many other mammals, elephants can also swim. They use their massive bodies to stay afloat and powerful legs to swim even large bodies of water for hours. They can also swim underwater by using their trunks as snorkels.
  33. Young elephants live in close relationships in a matriarchal society. Losing this society develops PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, including depression, unpredictable social behavior, and extreme aggression. Such elephants have killed more than a hundred rhinoceroses in Africa. (Source)
  34. The closest living relative of elephants is the rock hyrax. This tiny creature also has small tusks. (Source)
  35. Elephants can’t run as one of their feet is always on the ground while moving. The top speed of Asian elephants is 25 km/h (15 mph) or more, while African elephants are relatively faster.
  36. It is a myth that elephants move to their graveyards before death. In reality, elephants choose the best place to survive when sick, injured, or in old age. But there are few places in Africa with several elephants’ remains near poisonous lakes. Elephants don’t return to these graveyards purposefully but give attention if they spot them during routine travel. (Source)
  37. A newborn elephant can stand on its own after minutes of birth and walk within a couple of hours. Females can reproduce up to 12 calves during their lifetime.

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