Elephants are one of our world’s most majestic creatures! They’re huge, intelligent, family-orientated, and are truly magnificent. Yet, and here’s the sad part, they’re treated like dirt at the bottom of a shoe. Their feelings are disregarded, their families torn apart, and they don’t always get to lead the life they were supposed to lead. So, today join us as we celebrate the lives of these mammoth beings, to learn, and to appreciate what a natural beauty they really are with 79 amazing facts about elephants.
Fact 1: A baby elephant is known as a ‘calf’.
Fact 2: The largest elephant ever recorded was found and killed in Angola in 1956. The elephant was male, and he weighed about 24,000 lb. He was 3.96 meters tall at his shoulder, which made him almost a meter taller than the average male African elephant.
Fact 3: The Swahili word for elephant is ‘Tembo’.
Fact 4: Elephants live in matriarchal families, this means that females are the main power within the group.
Fact 5: African Elephants are the largest land animals that are currently roaming our planet.
Fact 6: Not only are they the land’s largest animal but elephants also have one of the largest brains of all the animals in the animal kingdom. With a brain that weighs about 11-13 lbs, they easily trump that of a human brain! For comparison, a human brain weighs about 3 pounds!
Fact 7: A male elephant is referred to as a ‘bull’.
Fact 8: Groups of elephants are called ‘herds’.
Fact 9: A female elephant is called a ‘cow’.
Fact 10: The average gestation (pregnancy) of a female elephant is about 95 weeks. This is roughly 21 months, which is over twice as long as a human pregnancy which lasts 9 months.
Fact 11: An Asian elephant named Koshik once learned to imitate human speech and was able to say five words in Korean: hello, no, sit down, lie down and good.
Fact 12: Elephants are mammals that are part of the Elephantidae family.
Fact 13: There are three known species of elephant:
- The African bush elephant
- The African forest elephant
- The Asian elephant
Fact 14: A herd of elephants is usually led by the oldest, and or, strongest female within the herd. This female is given the title ‘matriarch’.
Fact 15: Interestingly, elephants are non-ruminant herbivores, this means that they don’t chew on cud and belch, but they do produce a load of methane gas! According to research, a car could travel up to 20 miles based on the amount of methane gas an elephant releases in a day.
Fact 16: Given that their brain already weighs nearly 4 times as much as humans, it’s no surprise to hear that an elephant’s actual brain size is 3 times bigger than a human’s brain at 45cm long. Humans tend to have a brain that is roughly 15 centimeters in length.
Fact 17: During the Roman-Pyrrhus War in 275 BC, it was mentioned that squealing War-pigs were used to frighten off elephants that were used by the enemy to fight in the war.
Fact 18: Elephants have actually got really good lifespans!
- African Bush elephant 60-70 years
- African Forest elephant 60-70 years
- Asian elephant 45-50 years
Fact 19: Elephants will eat for up to 16 hours a day.
Fact 20: Researchers from the University of St Andrew’s claimed in 2013 that elephants and humans have a ‘unique bond’. This ‘bond’ is demonstrated by elephants by being considerate and learning the commands from humans.
Fact 21: Herds of elephants can vary in size, some herds can be as little as 8 elephants, while larger herds can contain 100 or so elephants. The herd size depends on the type of elephant more than anything else.
Fact 22: Both bulls and cows have tusks in the African species. Even calves have ‘baby tusks’ that fall out and grow back properly when they get older.
Fact 23: African Elephants’ brains contain more than 257 billion neurons.
Fact 24: Most elephants sleep while standing up, but they can also sleep lying down. Don’t try sleeping standing up at home, it’s virtually impossible for humans!
Fact 25: In the wild, some elephants will eat about 600 lbs worth of food in a day. In captivity, they are more likely to eat about 5 bales of hay.
Fact 26: A common word to describe an elephant is ‘jumbo’. One reason we use this word is that P.T. Barnum once bought an elephant with this name from a London zoo, and so people just started using the name to describe massive things. Alternatively, some say the word ‘jumbo’ sounds like ‘Jambe’ or ‘Jumbe’ in Swahili, which means ‘thing’ and ‘chief’ when translated.
Fact 27: A cow (Female elephant) typically gives birth to a sole calf every 2 to 4 years.
Fact 28: It is not unheard of for siblings to mate in the elephant herd. But, elephants naturally seem to avoid this.
Fact 29: An average elephant is said to drink about 100-200 liters of water per day. This is way more than a humans required daily intake of about 2 litres a day.
Fact 30: Elephants can communicate with other elephants by stomping their feet on the floor. But they also go up and nudge other elephants to talk to them too.
Fact 31: Like humans, elephants also have a hippocampus in their brain. The hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory. In fact, their hippocampus is said to be one of the greatest in the animal kingdom!
Fact 32: On average, an elephant will poo about 12-15 times a day!
Fact 33: Males often leave a herd and go off to seek out another herd. The biggest reason for doing this is so that the male can mate with as many fertile females as possible.
Fact 34: Elephants keep their body temperature at 36℃, this is just a little lower than what we humans like our body temperature to be.
Fact 35: Elephants don’t like peanuts!
Fact 36: A cow (female elephant) and a bull (male elephant) can create a set of twin calves! This is incredibly rare and has only been witnessed a handful of times throughout history. Some of the most recent twin calves born were born in the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa in 2005.
Fact 37: Calves, of the female kind, rarely stray far away from their Mothers or the herd that they live in.
Fact 38: An elephant can use its trunk for many purposes. The trunk is useful for picking up tools to use, lifting water into the mouth to drink, digging into the ground, and for communicating with other animals.
Fact 39: The average adult elephant has a trunk that is up to 6 ft long and can easily weigh about 140kg.
Fact 40: If ever you visit a zoo, or see an elephant in the wild, you might be surprised to see them using tools. For example, if an elephant has an itch on its back, it will find a piece of tree and use its trunk to push the piece back and forth along its back to relieve the itch! Another example is, if elephants know there could be a drought near a watering-hole, they will try and plug the water-hole to stop the water running away. Interestingly, a lot of other animals use tools to complete daily tasks in the animal kingdom. For example, some sharks in Sharks Bay use sponges to stop themselves from bumping their head along the seafloor when they’re searching for food.
Fact 41: Elephants like other animals in the animal kingdom can swim, and they can swim underwater. To swim below the water they stick their trunks out of the water to breathe.
Fact 42: An adult elephant poops about 12-15 times a day, it is natural to assume that by the end of the year they’ll have pooped one heck of a lot! In fact, an average adult elephant is estimated to poop out about 40 tons in 1 year.
Fact 43: Unlike other animals who mate for life, elephants do not. You might occasionally see a bull going back to the same female to mate but this is largely for mating purposes.
Fact 44: Elephants are really playful animals, in captivity baby elephants are often seen playing around with other elephants, and playing with actual toys. A classic toy that elephants love to play with is a ball!
Fact 45: The size of an elephant’s ear is related to how much heat needs to be lost through them. For example, the African elephant lives in a far warmer climate than the Asian elephant, so it needs bigger ears to thermoregulate itself.
Fact 46: The average elephant can easily be around 3 meters tall, but this does vary from species to species.
Fact 47: The myth about elephants liking peanuts is likely to have to come from the days when elephants were the main attraction at circuses. So the idea goes, people sold peanuts to the crowds to get them more engaged in the performance.
Fact 48: Elephants, like humans and other animals, are quite capable of showing various emotions. For example, elephants often show happiness through their actions, are able to experience grief, and can be compassionate towards other elephants.
Fact 49: When an elephant is angry, or a male is warning another male, they will push out their ears to intimidate their opponent. This is actually a pretty cool trick because some elephants’ ears are absolutely massive.
Fact 50: Elephant calves really love running around and chasing their friends!
Fact 51: Research suggests that because elephants have a large hippocampus, which is the area associated with memory, that elephants who have been separated for a long period of time will recognize each other when they meet up again.
Fact 52: After mating, males do stick around for a short period of time to protect their females from other bulls.
Fact 53: Elephants cannot jump! Why? The answer is simple, their bone structure just won’t allow it. Their leg bones are pointed down towards the floor so they don’t have the ‘springy’ step that we all have. It has very little do with their weight and height!
Fact 54: The average elephant is typically about 6 meters in length, but this does vary from species to species.
Fact 55: An elephant can cool itself down by flapping its ears. Not only does the actual movement give a fanning effect, but the constant flapping of the ear moves around blood and this helps to circulate cooler blood around the body.
Fact 56: They have poor eyesight. In fact, they can only really see up to about 20 meters away, but this isn’t too much of a problem because they have an amazing sense of smell, touch, and hearing.
Fact 57: An African elephant’s ears can measure up to 6 ft from top to bottom.
Fact 58: An elephant’s eyelashes can be about 5 inches long. This wins them the crown for the longest eyelashes in the world! Try curling those beauties!
Fact 59: Interestingly, elephants are self-aware. This means that when they see themselves in a mirror they can recognize themselves. Only a handful of animals, other than humans, can do this, another example would be dolphins.
Fact 60: It’s possible for an average size elephant’s skin to weigh about 900kg, this is the equivalent to 128,571 pencils.
Fact 61: After a bull has left its initial herd, it goes to a ‘bachelor herd’ until it is ready to go out into the world to mate.
Fact 62: Given that elephants have somewhat poor eyesight, it’ll come as no surprise to you to hear that elephants only see in blue and yellow but not red and green.
Fact 63: Calves are often seen sucking their trunks. The reason for this could be because they’re seeking comfort and because it’s familiar to them. It’s similar to a baby sucking on its thumb.
Fact 64: Elephants love to have mud baths. They do this for many reasons, to cool off, moisturize the skin, pest control, protection, and to stop sunburn occurring.
Fact 65: Elephants are often seen helping other animals out of trouble even if it means that they are putting themselves in danger to do so. This kind of behavior is known as ‘altruism’. It is not uncommon to see elephants helping people, dogs, and other animals.
Fact 66: Elephants do have teeth. In fact, they have 26 teeth, which is actually less than the total amount of teeth humans have (32). But, the story doesn’t end there. Whereas humans have baby teeth and then adult teeth, elephants are polyphyodonts, meaning they get new teeth regularly!
Fact 67: African elephants are listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the endangered species list.
Fact 68: There is actually no evidence to suggest that the myth that elephants are afraid of mice is actually true. It’s likely that films have overindulged in this idea.
Fact 69: As humans, we have plenty of sweat glands, but an elephant has very few. In fact, some of their sweat glands are located near their cuticles (nails) on their feet.
Fact 70: Asian elephants are listed as ‘endangered’ on the endangered species list.
Fact 71: Elephants cry when they are hurt, both physically and mentally.
Fact 72: An elephant’s tusk is basically a modified incisor. We humans have also got incisors, but nowhere near as big as the ones elephants have! Humans have 4 incisors in each jaw, and these are located at the front of the mouth, they look quite narrow and pointy.
Fact 73: This one might be a little obvious, but elephants can sneeze! Given they have a great big trunk, which is basically their nose, they can sneeze too just like a human.
Fact 74: Humans and lions are the main predators for an elephant. Sadly, humans hunt the animal for sport and to get their tusks, while lions go after elephants for food.
Fact 75: Elephants like to eat leaves, shoots, and bamboo.
Fact 76: As of 2018, there are only about 40,000-50,000 Asian elephants left.
Fact 77: Around 15,000-20,000 elephants are kept in captivity, and a large proportion of these are only kept for entertainment reasons.
Fact 78: Female Asian elephants have much shorter tusks than males, and they are called ‘tushes’.
Fact 79: An elephant’s tusk will not grow back once it has been removed. In fact, removing the tusk is a bloody and gruesome process!
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