Things you may not know about elephants

December 15, 2015
Tarryn Rae
Photo credit to Field guide Greg Esterhuysen

The African elephant and Asian elephant are the only two distinct species of elephant left in the world.

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is slightly larger than their Asian cousins and can be identified by their larger ears that look somewhat like the continent of Africa.
African elephants have two finger-like tips on the end of their trunk which allows for extreme dexterity (Asian elephants only have one).
The trunk is an amazing limb containing an estimated 100,000 muscles and tendons.

Photo credit to Field guide Tarryn Rae

African elephants gestation period is 22 months making it the longest gestation period of any other land animal in the world.
When the little one is born they can weigh anything between 90 kg to 120 kg (poor mom).
Just as a human baby sucks its thumb, an elephant calf often sucks its trunk for comfort and it is so cute to watch them learn how a trunk actually works.
The elephants are extremely social animals, the herds that one sees is usually comprised of a family group of females and their young. Males will either leave the herd or get chased away at around the age of 15 years. These males will then often join up with other males to form a loose-knit bachelor herd.

Photo credit to Field guide Greg Esterhuysen

Both male and female elephants possess tusks, which are actually modified incisor teeth.
The elephant’s tusks will continue to grow throughout its life making use of them for digging, foraging, and in the males case, fighting.

Just as people can be either right-handed or left-handed, elephants are either right-tusked or left-tusked as they will favor using one over the other.

In bachelor herds the males will often play fight as seen in the photo above, this is to help assert dominance within the herd.

Photo credit to Field guide Tarryn Rae

Elephants don’t posses sweat glands like we do and therefore need to make use of other methods to cool down. They use their ears to regulate their body temperature (“earcon”).
Inside of an elephant’s ears there are a network of large veins and the skin over the back of the ear is very thin. As the elephant flaps its’ ears they create a light breeze over the veins helping to cool the blood in their ears and in turn, their body.
Elephants will also make use of natures cooling system…mud and water. Elephants love to swim often fully submerging themselves and use their trunks like a snorkel.

An elephants eyes are very small meaning that they have poor vision. This is made up for with a fantastic sense of smell and hearing.

Elephants get six sets of teeth throughout their lives. As the teeth wear down from all the chewing they do, they are replaced by new ones emerging from the back of the mouth and moving forward, similar to a conveyor belt. Each set being bigger than the last in order to accommodate a growing skull.

Checkout our elephant videos from our YOUTUBE Channel:

Elephant fun

Elephants approach game drive vehicle

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