There are many big animals on our planet, but few are as iconic as our beloved elephants. Very large and yet very graceful, beautiful and intelligent – they have it all. But very few people actually know about the many secrets that these gentle giants hold. So, let’s expose them! let’s get down to 15 Unbelievable Facts About Elephants.
- There are three different species of elephant – the African Savannah elephant, the African Forest elephant and the Asian elephant.
- Some of the iconic physical characteristics of elephants include: powerful ivory tusks that they use as weapons that can impale their victims, large ears – great for hearing and large trunk that are actually a fusion of nose and upper lip, that they use to drink water, eat leaves and even communicate with each other.
- Speaking of another iconic physical characteristic that differentiate elephants from other animals, is that they are the world’s largest land mammals. On average, Male African elephants (the biggest elephants species) can grow to be 3 meters or 10 feet tall and weigh 4000 to 7500 kilograms or 8800 to 16500 pounds.
- Elephants aren’t just the largest land mammals, they are also the most intelligent, right after the great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and, of course, humans). They display grief, altruism, compassion, self-awareness, play, art and music. Plus they can manipulate their environments to suit themselves.
- One way to tell African elephants apart from Asian elephants is by the differences of their ears. African elephants have ears that are shaped like Africa while Asian elephants have ears that are shaped like India, which is absolutely astonishing.
- Both, male and female African elephants grow tusks, but only male Asian elephants grow them, whereas the females don’t. So a tuskless elephant is likely to be a female Asian elephant. Also, the tusks of elephants never stop growing, so you can judge elephant’s age by the length of it’s tusks, the longer – the older.
- Elephants are herbivores who, on average, spend 12 to 18 hours a day eating grass, plants and fruit. They do so using their trunks that can smell and suck the food in. They need about 136 kilograms of 300 pounds of food on a daily basis.
- After a good bath, elephants often cover themselves with mud, which serves as a sunscreen which protects their skin from the sunlight.
- Elephants are social matriarchal species, meaning that they are led by females.
- Elephants can be very friendly and compassionate, but can also be very aggressive and dangerous. They are often most aggressive when directly attacked, but also they can attack humans when humans enter their territories. Females can be very aggressive when they think that their children are in danger, whereas males experience a phenomena called “Musth” which is when their testosterone levels rise sharply, often 60 times or more the previous levels and they begin to compete for females. This condition is most pronounced in Asian elephants and usually resolves itself in 60 days. But this condition is experienced by all elephant males and makes them very aggressive.
- The gestation period of elephants is the longest of all land mammals. It takes the mother African elephant 22 months from the point of impregnation to give birth, and 18 to 22 months for Asian elephants. Elephant mothers often give birth three times a decade to a single baby, called calf.
- Baby elephants are born weighing, on average, 100 kilograms or 220 pounds. They also begin walking very shortly after birth. They suckle for a few years.
- Just like we – humans, are either right or left handed, elephants are either right of left tusked. They are known for having a dominant tusk that they use for often and control better when performing various tasks.
- African elephants have an average lifespan of 70 years in the wild, but live shorter in captivity. African elephants have an average life span of 48 years and also live slightly shorter in captivity.
- Elephants can recognize themselves in mirrors, that few animals can and that is a sign of self-recognition which is a sign of great intelligence, for animals.
As you can see, elephants are fascinating, huge and smart, yet, mostly, loving animals. They are just marvels of mother nature. However, they are also in danger of extinction, largely because of poachers and trophy hunters. They kill these beautiful animals, often for their ivory tusks. So if you want to help elephants, at least try not to buy ivory. And that’s it for this 15 Unbelievable Facts About Elephants article.