From Nelly the Elephant to Dumbo, elephants are an animal beloved by children and adults alike and elephants have featured as characters in popular children’s stories and movies hundreds of times. But apart from a long trunk and big feet, what other Interesting facts about elephants are there?
Did you know elephants sleep standing up? Actually, when you think about it, this fact is not all that surprising. An elephant is so big and heavy that would not be able to get up again quickly if it lay down to sleep, which would make it vulnerable.
An elephant’s trunk is a fusion of its nose and upper lip, and along with the tusks, the trunk is one of the most well known features of an elephant. They can be up to eight feet long and are believed to contain more than forty thousand muscles.
What other interesting facts about elephants are there?
Did you know that the tusks are actually the upper second incisor that never stops growing? Tusks are hereditary and elephants are either born right-tusked, or left-tusked. African elephants have larger tusks. They can grow up to ten feet long and weigh as much as ninety kilograms. Asian elephants have smaller tusks and the females either have very short tusks or no tusks at all.
Elephants live almost as long as humans. On average, elephants live for between 60 and 70 years, but the oldest recorded elephant was 82. In fact, an elephant life cycle is not that dissimilar to ours. Male elephants mature between 12 and 15 years of age, with females about 11 years. Elephants usually mate around 20 years of age.
What interesting facts about elephants for kids are there?
Elephants live together in family groups known as a herd. The leader of the herd is the oldest female elephant and all the other females and babies follow her. Male elephants stay in the herd until they reach 14 or 15 years of age. At that point they leave the herd to make their own way in the world.
They can’t talk like humans, but elephants have their own way of communicating with each other. They use their trunks to make a trumpeting sound and they can also make tummy rumbling sounds.
Because of their immense size, elephants need a whole lot of food to keep going all day—5% of their body weight is eaten in food each day. Elephants are herbivores and they have to spend at least sixteen hours per day eating, but despite all this time spent eating, only 40% of the food is digested. Elephants also need lots of water to wash all that vegetation down—they drink between 30 and 50 gallons of water every day.
Elephants are so large that they have no natural predators. Unfortunately, they do have at least ONE predator—man. For many years, elephants have been hunted by poachers for their ivory tusks and body parts and the worldwide populations have dramatically declined. Conservation acts to protect the rapidly diminishing numbers of elephants left in the wild were passed in 1989 and 1997, which has gone some way towards protecting this gentle giant of the animal world.