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Elephant - The Largest Animal on Earth

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Last updated date: 15th Jul 2024
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Elephants: The Largest Terrestrial Creature

Have you ever visited a zoo? Have you seen an elephant? Let’s learn more about it. Elephants are the largest terrestrial creatures on the planet. The African Savanna elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant are the three types of elephants. These animals belong to the elephant family. This family also included mammoths and mastodons, which are now extinct. Keep reading to know more about elephants.


Picture of Elephants


A herd of elephants


A Herd of Elephants


Life Cycle of An Elephant

Elephants are divided into two genera: African and Asian, based on genetic and ecological evidence. However, they all share comparable life cycles and phases of growth. African bush elephants prefer the savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa, whereas forest elephants prefer the rainforests. In India and Southeast Asia, Asian elephants can be found in tropical and scrub woods, as well as open grasslands. 


What is the Colour of Elephants?

Generally, Elephant colours vary from grey to brown or black. Thus, the colour of elephants are grey, brown or black. Colour of elephants in Africa is mostly grey.


Elephant calves, on average, weigh 265 pounds at birth. Calves are able to sight, smell, and walk within an hour of birth. They normally start sucking within a few hours of birth and are completely reliant on their mothers' milk for the first three months of their existence. Infants are nursed not only by their mothers but also by other nursing females in the herd. Calves acquire their motor skills during the first three months of their lives. They start feeding on their own around the age of 3 to 4 months, but nurse for another two or three years.


Even after they've been weaned, young elephants stay with their original herd. Both male and female elephants grow and develop at similar rates over the first 10 years of their lives. The growth rates of adolescent elephants begin to decline between the ages of 10 and 12. Play is an important part of life for young elephants. Young male elephants chase and spar with other young males, while young female elephants chase birds with other females across the grass.


Life cycle of an elephant


Life Cycle of An Elephant


Male African grey elephants can reach heights of up to 12 feet at the shoulders and weigh up to 5 tonnes, making them the world's largest terrestrial mammals. Females are shorter than males, with an average height of 9 feet at the shoulders. Asian elephants have smaller ears and are slightly smaller than African elephants. Female Asian elephants, unlike their African counterparts, do not develop tusks. Elephants can live to be 70 years old and continue to grow for the rest of their life. As they become older, their growth rate slows, though there is evidence that males have a second growth spurt around the age of 20.


Characteristics of Elephants

Elephants have a big trunk, curved tusks, large ears, and wide legs, which distinguish them from other animals. Elephants can grow to be 11 feet tall and weigh up to 6000 kilograms (13,000 pounds). Elephants in Africa are substantially larger than elephants in Asia, with greater ears and tusks. They have wrinkled skin and a gloomy grey tint. Asian elephants, on the other hand, have grey and brown skin that is less wrinkled. Elephants' skin can grow up to 1 inch thick.


Diet of Elephants

Elephants are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants (plant eaters). They consume leaves, roots, fruits, grasses, and tree bark. They eat by breaking the branches of trees with their trunks. They can sometimes completely destroy the tree they are eating. In a single day, an elephant can consume roughly 300 pounds (140 kg) of food and drink up to 30 gallons of water.


Habitat of Elephants

Elephants are present on both the African and Asian continents in two different species. Because they frequently need to bathe to cool their bodies during the day, they like woodlands and reside near ponds. Elephants can also be seen in arid savannas. These elephants have developed particular adaptations to help them survive in the desert.


Summary

Elephants have been utilised as transportation and labour animals by humans since prehistoric times. They are still used for these purposes throughout Asia today. Elephants that have been trained also feature in circuses all over the world. Human activities, on the other hand, have put the survival of wild elephants in jeopardy. Many elephant habitats have been destroyed by humans. Many elephants have also been murdered for the ivory in their tusks. Ivory is carved into pieces of art, jewellery, and other artefacts by humans. So, this was all about our learning about elephants. Hope you enjoyed it!

FAQs on Elephant - The Largest Animal on Earth

1. What do we call newborn elephants?

Calf is the name for an infant elephant. The mothers of calves are seldom far from them. At least two years are spent on mother's milk consumption. The mother or a close relative should touch the calf frequently.

2. What is the specialty of the trunk and how do elephants communicate?

Elephants' trunks have roughly 150,000 muscle units. Asian elephants have been observed picking up a peanut, shelling it, blowing the shell out, and eating the nut using their trunks, which are among the most sensitive organs known in any mammal.


Elephants have a variety of methods to communicate, including trumpet cries (some of which are too low for humans to hear), body language, touch, and scent. Seismic signals can also be used to communicate.