8 amazing facts about elephants
These big eared creatures are lovable and fun. But did you know these amazing facts about elephants?! Read on to learn more weird and interesting facts to amaze your friends and family…
1. There are lots of different kinds
Elephants are one type of animal, but there are actually three different species of elephant. These are the African Forest elephant, the African Savannah elephant and the Asian elephant. You can tell elephants apart by their ears. African elephants’ ears are the same shape as Africa is on a map. Asian elephants’ ears look like India looks on a map. Honestly, it’s true! A lot of people don’t know this, but the African Forest elephant is a completely different species from the African Savannah elephant. You can tell them apart by looking at their tusks. African Forest elephants have straighter tusks.
2. Their tusks never stop growing
What happens if an elephant won’t tell you their age? Just look at the tusks! Just like adults whose ears keep growing and growing as they get older, elephants with huge tusks will be old elephants. One little problem with this is that female Asian elephants don’t grow tusks. Those ladies will never reveal their age!
3. They can eat and eat and eat
Think you’ve got a healthy appetite? Imagine eating for 12 to 18 hours of the day! That’s between a half and two thirds of each 24 hour period, or all of the time you are awake! Elephants pick yummy fruits, plants and grass. Bananas are one of their favourite foods, and they can peel their own. They don’t eat any meat, a bit like vegetarians. We call them herbivores, which means an animal that doesn’t eat meat. They drink a lot, too. Adult elephants can drink as much water as nearly three hundred big bottles of coke!
4. They wear sun screen (just not the same as humans!)
These smart elephants know exactly how to stay cool and protected from the sun! Once they’ve had a bath they cover themselves in mud and sand to add an extra layer of protection to their skin. This is especially useful where they live, as the sun is strong and bright. What would your parents say if you covered yourself in mud after your bath?
5. Elephant babies take a very long time to be ready for the world
Human babies take 9 months to grow before they are ready to leave their mothers and enter the world. But for elephants this takes much longer. It takes 22 months to grow an elephant, almost two whole years! Baby elephants are a lot bigger than human babies, too. Some baby elephants weigh 37 times the weight of a human baby! That’s a lot of little elephant! Unlike the babies you might know, newborn elephants can stand up almost straight away. As elephants are the largest land mammals in the world, it may not be surprising that it takes so long for them to grow.
6. Elephant ears have an important use
Having big ears makes elephants look a bit funny, and you might joke that they could use them to fly. But if you see an elephant flapping their ears they probably aren’t trying to take off. The ears help elephants to stay cool by transferring heat away from their bodies. Almost like having an inbuilt fan!
7. They live for around the same length of time as humans
There was once an elephant that lived for 86 years, longer than many humans live to today. On average, they live for between 50 and 70 years. This gives them time to grow up and spend time with their families, if they are female, or to explore, if they are male. Female elephants travel in groups of mums, grandmas, sisters and daughters. The oldest female elephant will usually lead them. Men prefer to live a bachelor lifestyle once they are old enough, so the only male elephants in the pack will usually be the young ones.
8. They love to snorkel
Elephants love the water, and it’s often the time they play and have fun together as a family. Although they don’t look like they are built for swimming, elephants have a special piece of equipment that those of you who love to swim might be familiar with. Their trunks! Elephants can use their trunks like snorkels, making sure they get air when they are underwater.