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Fun Elephant Facts For Kids

Elephants are large, majestic animals that have been admired and studied for hundreds of years.

They are the largest mammals that live on land and are known for their gentle attitude and intelligence.

While these elephants don’t have many predators, there is one threat that is quickly endangering them. Read on to find out more facts about elephants.

big african elephant

Elephant Characteristics

Elephants belong to the mammal family, which means that they have hair, give birth to live young, and feed their babies milk.

They have large, thin ears that are used to help cool them down, and have long, powerful trunks.

Their trunks can grow to be about six feet long, and can sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object.

Elephants use their trunks to help them lift up food, and they also use them to suck up water and pour it into their mouth.

There are two types of elephants: the Asian elephant and the African elephant. Both female and male African elephants have tusks which they use to help find and dig for food.

Only the male Asian elephant has tusks. They also use their tusks to help dig for water.

Elephants can grow over 13 feet tall and weigh up to 15,000 pounds. I hope they don’t break the scale!

Where do elephants live?

While elephants are common in zoos all over the world, they naturally live in Africa and Asia.

Elephants prefer to stay near water, but can be found in a few different habitats like savannahs, marshes, deserts, and forests.

What do elephants like to eat?

Elephants are herbivores, which means that they only eat plants. Because an elephant is so large, it needs to eat a lot of plants in order to get full.

elephant eating

Elephants can spend up to 16 hours a day collecting and eating leaves, twigs, bamboo, and roots.

An adult elephant can eat around 500 lbs of food every day and drink around 50 gallons of water per day.

They eat a lot more than they can digest, and can only make use of 40% of the food they eat.

Do any predators go after elephants?

Elephants have no natural predators in the wild, although sometimes lions will attack young or weak elephants in the herd. Sadly, the biggest threat to elephants is humans.

Humans hurt elephants through poaching them for their ivory tusks as well as by changing or destroying their habitat.

elephant herd

Currently, the African elephant is labeled as Vulnerable while the Asian elephant is labeled as Endangered.

Elephant Calves

Baby Elephants are called calves. Calves are about 3 feet tall and weight 250-300 lb. Some African baby elephants weight over 350 lb, heavier than most adult lions.

elephant calf

An elephant calf  can stand within 20 minutes of birth and walk with the herd within an hour.

Elephants are social emotional beings that care for their young as a group. Mothers and aunts care for the elephant while they are young.

Do elephants live together?

Female elephants spend their entire lives living together with other females and calves.

These family groups called ‘herds’ are led by a single elephant, known as the matriarch, which is usually the oldest female. An elephant herd can have 8-100 elephants.

Male elephants will live with the herd until they are about 13 years old.

Once they get to this age, they leave the herd and mainly live alone for the rest of their life. Elephants can live up to 70 years old in the wild.

Elephant Trunks

The elephant trunks are incredibly strong and muscular, with over 150,000 muscle units packed in.  In comparison humans only have a little over 700 muscles.

elephant trunk

Their trunks are also very sensitive and flexible. Elephants can pick up a peanut with their large trunk, and eat it after blowing the shell away. So you see, they are not only strong but also very flexible.

They use the trunk to trumpet, smell and breathe. With their trunks they can also suck up to 8 liters of water.

Elephants in Water

elephant swimming

Elephants can breathe under water, using their trunks. They are great swimmers and can swim long distances (up to 30 miles).

Fun Elephant Facts:

  • There are two types of elephants: African elephants and Asian elephants. Asian elephants are smaller overall. Asian elephants have much smaller ears than African elephants. 
  • Elephants tusks are made of ivory and are in fact teeth that grow throughout their lives.
  • Their skin is around 2-3 cms thick. 
  • Elephants communicate through trumpet calls.
  • Elephants are known to possess very good memory, as they have a large dense temporal lobe in their brain.
  • Would you ever think that feet could be used to hear? Elephants are able to listen using their feet! They are able to pick up subsonic noises and other vibrations in the ground. Elephants often put their trunks to the ground to locate other elephants.
  • Elephants maybe large, but they can still run fast and reach speeds of 25 miles an hour.
  • 90% of African elephants have been killed in the past 100 years, mainly for ivory trade. It is estimated that there are only around 415,000 wild African elephants left today.
  • On average each elephant produces one ton of dung per week, and plays a role in keeping the soil fertile.
  • Elephants are emotional. They cry when upset and trumpet when happy or angry.
  • Elephants spray mud on themselves to protect their thick skin from bugs and ticks.
  • Elephants are fearful of bees. African farmers use beehives to keep elephants out.
  • Elephants are gentle animals whose intelligence is similar to apes and chimpanzees. They are the largest land mammals and many of them live together in social herds and families.

Animals