Fun facts about elephants tell us more about one of the most fascinating creatures on our planet. But how much do we really know?
For some, seeing an elephant in person is pretty normal, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for others. So let’s learn how you can enjoy the experience and understand the life of these amazing creatures.
Fascinating Facts About Elephants
- Elephants can spend up to 18 hours a day eating and grazing.
- Their trunks can suck and store about two gallons of water.
- Elephants can pick up sound vibrations from 50 miles away.
- Their skin is about one inch thick.
- The Sumatran elephant is the smallest subspecies, weighing around five tons.
- Elephants eat about 330 pounds of food daily.
- The African species can weigh over 6.6 tons.
- Elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror.
- At birth, they can weigh around 264 lbs.
- Elephants are born blind.
Interesting Facts About Elephants
Elephants are simply amazing. We like to think of them as the gentle giants of the wild. So let’s learn more about these fascinating animals.
1. Elephants Eat About 330 Pounds of Food a Day.
- They spend three-quarters of their day, or 18 hours, eating. No wonder males can weigh more than six tons.
- Fun facts about elephants show they can communicate in unique ways. It’s not just the regular trumpet sound that we recognize but also touch, scent, and vibration. They can pick up sound vibrations through the ground from 50 miles away. Also, they even recognize different elephants by voice.
- Most areas of elephant skin are about one inch thick. That protects them from the weather and keeps them cool — the wrinkles in their skin can hold water. Also, elephants use mud as sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
But that’s not all. Let’s have a look at more cool facts about elephants.
2. Elephant Trunks Have Around 150,000 Muscles.
- The elephant trunk can hold up to two gallons of water, and they can use it for snorkelling while swimming.
- Elephant tusks are one of the most unique body parts of these animals. But did you know they’re actually large incisors (teeth) that start growing when the elephant is two years old? The tusks grow throughout their lifetime. They’re insanely powerful and can even rip up trees.
- We’ve all heard the saying that an elephant never forgets. Their temporal lobe, which is the memory part of the brain, is very dense, far more than a human’s. Hence the saying.
So, we have a good idea about how elephants look and behave, but what type of environment do they need to survive?
Fun Facts About Elephants Habitat
There is a big range of elephant habitats based on the species, but here is some info on what elephants generally need in their environment.
3. The African Bush Elephant Lives in the Savanna, Relying on Yearly Rains To Survive.
- The African forest elephant lives in dense forests of West and Central Africa. While the Asian elephant will usually remain in a rainforest.
- However, both species migrate each year. The African elephant travels in search of water between June-November (dry season), returning home once the rainy seasons bring new vegetation to their native region.
- Some migration patterns are unclear. In 2020, there was a herd of 15 elephants, migrating over 300 miles in China. Science predicts it is due to a loss of habitat but either way they caused over $1.1 million in damage to crops.
But what are the main differences between elephant species? Let’s delve a bit deeper to find out.
Unique Facts About Elephants — Species
There are two main species of elephant, African and Asian. But each has subspecies with unique characteristics. So let’s first look into fun facts about Asian elephants.
4. The Asian Elephant Is Between 8–10 Feet at the Shoulder.
(Source: SeaWorld Parks)
- Male Asian elephants can weigh between 6,000–11,000 lbs.
- Female Asian elephants reach sexual maturity at around eight years old. For the males, it’s between 10–14 years.
- These elephants are native to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
These are some general facts, but what about the subspecies? Let’s check out some fun facts about Indian elephants.
5. The Indian Elephant Is Around 18–21 Feet Tall.
(Source: A-Z Animals)
- You may find this sub-specie in areas like Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Bhutan, and Vietnam, just to name a few.
- These elephants rely on dense forestation to eat throughout the day. However, there are more instances of elephants and humans invading each other’s space. The species has lost about 20% of their natural habitat to us already.
- Plus, the infamous Bengal Tiger has been known to attack and eat baby Indian Elephants. So, the loss of habitat forces the predators closer to the prey in a vicious cycle.
Now let’s look into some fun facts about Sumatran elephants.
6. The Sumatran Elephant Is Almost Bald, and Females Rarely Have Tusks.
(Source: One Kind Planet)
- There are only 2,400–2,800 Sumatran elephants left, making them an endangered species. This is due to their loss of habitat. The tropical forest is torn down for human needs.
- The Sumatran elephant is the smallest subspecies, weighing around 5 tons.
- We need elephants to keep the forests alive. They distribute seeds with their travels across land. Sadly, they can’t keep up and have lost 50% of their population between 1980–2005.
But what about the biggest of the species? Let’s explore fun facts about African elephants.
7. The African Elephant Can Weigh Over 6.6 Tons.
(Source: Animal Fact Guide)
- You can spot the difference between the African and Asian elephants in the size of their ears. The African elephant has massive ears. They help keep elephants cool in the hot African sun and allow them to hear as far as 6 miles.
- African elephants possess human qualities — they grieve the dead and hold grudges. So if you offend an elephant, you better keep your distance because they’ll remember you. These mammals also celebrate reconnecting with old friends, much as we do.
- Unfortunately, the African elephant is under constant threat from poachers, with only 350,000 elephants left in Africa. Elephant history facts show a massive decline, from the over 7 million African elephants in the 1930s.
As you can see, these animals are struggling to stay alive, so we need to do all we can to help. But the African bush elephant isn’t alone, let’s check out some fun facts about African forest elephants.
8. The African Forest Elephant Has Straighter Tusks and Is Darker in Color
(Source: The African Wildlife Foundation)
- The cousin to the African bush elephant is also slightly smaller in size. But the biggest difference is in their habitat. The forest elephant remains in forests within central and west Africa, compared to the African Savannah.
- The habitat makes the forest elephant a vital part of the ecosystem, as their dung provides much-needed dispersion of seeds. Their diet also consists largely of fruit compared to the dry grass consumed by their cousins.
- While there is debate on whether there are in fact two different African elephants, scientists found that the two are genetically different and each plays a role in their habitats survival.
That’s why it’s so important that we end poaching and habitat loss, no matter the subspecies. Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at some adorable calf facts.
Fun Facts About Baby Elephants
The only thing sweeter than an elephant is a baby elephant. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them in the wild, and it’s one of the most endearing sights.
9. Elephants Can Weigh 264 Pounds at Birth.
- To put things into perspective, the English mastiff, the largest dog breed worldwide, can weigh around 160 lbs fully grown. A baby elephant is 100 lbs more than that. That’s huge!
- Elephants carry a pregnancy for about 18–22 months — the longest gestation period of a mammal. A calf can stand within 20 minutes after birth and walks within an hour.
- In two days, a baby elephant can keep up with the entire herd. That’s truly impressive, considering that they average about 15 miles a day and can reach 90 miles per day.
Are you ready for more crazy elephant facts about calves?
10. Baby Elephants Are Born Blind.
- Baby elephants suck on their trunks the same way human babies suck their thumb or binky.
- If a mama elephant loses her baby, she’ll grieve and sometimes carry the dead calf for days.
- A baby elephant will stay with its mother for the first 10 years.
- Elephants are the only land mammal that can’t jump.
There’s quite a lot more to learn about these fascinating creatures.
Amazing Facts About Elephants
These animals are pretty intelligent and gentle.
11. Elephants Can Recognize Themselves in the Mirror.
- Besides us, the only other mammals that can do that are apes and dolphins. Unfortunately, since elephants are so smart, they get used in the circus which includes the use of bullhooks.
- Fun facts about elephants and their intelligence show that their brain weighs a whopping 11 pounds. It’s the largest among land mammals.
- Few things are better than a good hug. While elephants can’t exactly hug the way we do, they can wrap their trunks together. It’s both a greeting and a way to show their affection.
Here are more unique facts about elephants and their behavior.
12. Elephants Have Incredibly Strong Family Relationships.
(Source: Travel Discover Kenya)
- Elephant families include everyone — from baby calves to their grandparents. The animals protect and love their herd. They care for each other when they’re ill and help one another throughout their lives that last about 70 years in the wild.
- The matriarch, usually the largest and oldest female, runs the herd. Female elephants stay in the herd while the males leave to have somewhat of a bachelor life. But new studies suggest that the males create their own groups, with an older male showing them the ropes.
- One of the most interesting facts about elephants is that even though the females and males separate, the males are never too far away from their offspring. Both females and males protect the herd with all they have.
Let’s explore some weird facts about elephants.
13. Elephant Eyelashes Are About Five Inches Long.
(Source: Green Global Travel)
- Elephants have terrible digestion, with only 50% efficiency. This causes a serious amount of built-up gas, aka methane.
- A single elephant can produce about 250 pounds of poop every day.
- Herds can have anywhere between 8–100 elephants.
But we need to learn the most important facts about elephants so we can save them.
What We Can’t Ignore About Elephants
So, we’ve learned some fun facts about elephants. However, these creatures are in serious trouble and are heading for extinction.
14. Asian Elephants Have Only 15% of Their Original Range.
- The decline in natural habitat is due to deforestation. This can leave elephants with no choice but to head onto private land where they’re threatened by human activity.
- African elephants have just 50% of their original habitat.
- Elephants play an intrinsic role in the ecosystem, and losing them would be devastating. Sadly, poaching remains a huge problem in some African countries, particularly in East and Central Africa.
Before we wrap up, let’s check a few more interesting facts about elephants.
15. There Are Only Between 40,000–50,000 Wild Asian Elephants Left.
- In the last three generations, the Asian elephant population has dropped by 50%.
- There are 15,000 captive Asian elephants. Unfortunately, most help the Asian tourist trade and can’t go back into the wild where they can thrive.
- Much like our furballs need dog vitamins, captive elephants need vitamin A supplements because they don’t get as much as they need. Remember, elephants track food far in the wild, and captivity can’t offer them the same variety.
If these fun facts about elephants teach us anything, it’s that elephants should stay in the wild.
Elephants are truly unique animals that we can learn a lot from. They’re gentle and have a profound sense of family and belonging. Also, these lovely giants are quite protective of their herd.
What’s more, their bodies can store two gallons of water in the trunk and walk 90 miles a day.
Fun facts about elephants show us that these amazing creatures are fundamental for ecosystems. But their numbers are dwindling by 100 a day in Africa. So we need to do everything we can to help them.
How can I help elephant population numbers?
The most significant change you can make on a personal level is to never buy an ivory product. Many countries have banned ivory, which helped a lot, but elephants are quickly becoming the next rhino. While the black market trade is illegal, it’s still a billion-dollar-a-year industry.
What do I call a male elephant?
Here are some fun facts about male elephants: the males are called bulls, the females — cows, and their babies are calves. Moreover, male elephants are bigger than their female counterparts, particularly the African bush elephant, which can reach over six tonnes.
What are the closest relatives of elephants?
Surprisingly, genetic studies show a close relative correlation between elephants and sea cows. Other fun facts about elephants reveal that horses and rhinos are more closely related to elephants than the aardvark. The aardvark was believed to be the second closest relative. Still, recent studies showed a whole slew of genetically similar species.