As the largest animal on land, it’s not hard to be mesmerized and amazed by elephants! But did you know there’s even more to these majestic critters?
If you’re curious to know about what makes these super-sized mammals tick, you’ve come to the right place! These fascinating elephant facts for kids will fill you in on their unique quirks!
Fun & Interesting Elephant Facts For Kids
Elephants are a special part of our ecosystem, playing their role along with all the animals of the wild. Browse through these interesting elephant facts for kids to find out more about them!
1. There Are Two Main Species of Elephant!
Though there are actually a few species of elephants, they fall into two main classifications. These higher classifications are the African elephant and the Asian elephant!
Asian elephants include the Indian, Borneo, and Sri Lankan elephants. African elephants include the African bush and smaller African forest elephants!
As hinted in their names, African elephants are native to Africa and Asian elephants to the Asian continent. In terms of looks, each of these types of elephants is slightly different, too!
The Asian elephant is smaller in size with smaller ears, whereas the African elephant is larger. In fact, African bush elephants weigh on average around 2200 tons more than Asian elephants!
2. Elephants Use Their Trunks Much Like We Do Our Hands!
Elephants have up to 40,00 muscle units in their trunk alone, making them very nimble! To compare, the human body only has around 600 muscles!
As such, elephant trunks get plenty of use – be it for foraging, drinking water, or being used as a snorkel! Elephants also use their trunks to shower themselves with water and mud to cool down.
Apart from this, elephants use their trunks to communicate and be affectionate to one another, too! In fact, elephants will go to grieving herd members and stroke them with their trunks!
Yes, you could say an elephant would be lost without his trunk! Elephants can even hold a paintbrush with theirs and paint a picture, using both their trunk and incredible intelligence!
3. Elephants Have “Fingers” on Their Trunk For Grasping
Yes, both African and Asian elephants have little protruding “fingers” on their trunks to grasp things! However, Asian elephants only have one finger, and African elephants have two!
Of course, these “fingers” don’t look like human fingers but do have a similar purpose. In fact, these “fingers” allow elephants to nimbly pick up small objects, such as a grass blade or peanut!
4. Only Some Male Asian Elephants Have Tusks
One fun elephant fact for kids is that Asian and African elephants differ considerably as far as looks go. But did you know that only some Asian male elephants have tusks?
Luckily for them, this makes these elephants less appealing to poachers. Unfortunately, both African male and female elephants have tusks, putting them at higher risk from ivory poachers.
5. Some African Elephants Can Grow Up To Almost A Story Tall!
The average African elephant is around 9 to 13 feet tall! So, that means that the taller of these African elephants are almost as tall as your average 14-foot, one-story building!
Yes, elephants have definitely earned their place in the Big 5, along with the Lion, Buffalo, Rhinoceros, and Leopard! These majestic mammals are lofty, unique, and powerful!
6. Elephants Weigh The Same As A Car or Two!
If you’ve never seen an elephant, then you’re likely wondering how big they really are? Well, at least as tall as your average basketballer and, at the minimum, as heavy as a few cars!
African elephants weigh 8800-15,400 tons, while Asian elephants come in at a slightly smaller 6600-13,200 tons! To compare, the average car only weighs around 4000 tons.
7. Elephants Are Vegetarians!
Not all big animals need meat to bulk up! Elephants are the largest land animal but only eat a herbivorous diet, including roots, grasses, fruit, and bark!
Of course, much like cows or goats, they also need to forage and eat all day long to eat their fill! Only in this way can they maintain their considerable body weight, nutrition, and health.
8. Elephants Are Mammals, Just Like Us!
Mammals are a select group of living beings that include humans and all species of elephants, too! Yes, elephants are furry, warm-blooded vertebrates that nurse their young, just like us!
9. Newborn Elephants Calves Are Quite Capable!
In the wild, a vulnerable baby animal is the ideal soft target for all the predators. As such, baby elephant calves have to learn to stand quickly to survive!
Luckily, they’ve got this down pat – the average baby elephant can stand within around 20 minutes of birth! Luckily, their herd will also stand guard while the baby finds his feet.
10. Elephants Can Eat Up to 300 Lbs of Food Every Day!
On the topic of elephant facts for kids, your average elephant sure can eat a considerable amount! Yes, an elephant can consume up to 300 lbs worth of food per day!
To compare, the average adult human only eats around 3-5 lbs of food per day. Yes, that means that an elephant can eat around 100 days worth of your food in just one day!
11. Elephants Can Communicate Via Vibrations!
Elephants communicate through both sound and touch, among other things. But did you know that they can also communicate via inaudible vibrations called “rumbles”?
Yes, elephants can pick up sounds that even we humans cannot hear by picking them up with their bones. These vibrations are usually in the infrasonic range of 30 Hz.
Elephants don’t just hear these frequencies in their bones, though; they can also produce them to communicate! In fact, elephant “rumbles” can travel just over 2 kilometers away!
12. Elephants Are Some of the Smartest Animals Out There!
With an estimated 257,000,000,000 neurons in their whole nervous systems and around 11,000,000,000 in the cerebral cortex alone, it’s not hard to guess elephants are clever!
To compare, humans only have an estimated 86,000,000,000 neurons in their whole nervous system. And there are around 21,000,000,000 in their cerebral cortex.
The only other animals that beat both elephants and us are the long-finned pilot whale and fin whale! Elephants also have the largest brains: 6.5 kg for Africans and 5.5kg for Asian elephants.
Of course, neurons and brain size aren’t the only or most accurate measures of intelligence! However, research on elephant behavior, communication, and memory further proves theirs!
13. Elephants Really Do Have Thick Skin!
Elephants, particularly African elephants, live in tough climates where it’s hot and water is often scarce. As such, they’ve evolved to manage these harsh conditions with thick skin!
The average elephant’s skin can be around 2.5 cm thick all over its body. Plus, certain parts of African elephants’ skin, especially wrinkles, can also retain a lot of water to keep them cool.
You see, elephants have no sebum or glands with which to sweat and cool down. They also take good care of their skin, taking regular mud baths to keep it clean, hydrated, and protected.
14. Elephants Have Ears Shaped Like Africa!
Here’s another fun elephant fact for kids: yes, elephants really do have Africa-shaped ears! What’s even more interesting is that this feature is more pronounced on African elephants!
Yes, their large ears look exactly like the African continent! Interestingly, the Asian elephant’s ears aptly look like the continent of India, too!
15. There Used to be a Straight-tusked Elephant Roaming Europe!
Long ago, in the Middle and Late Pleistocene periods, a large species of elephant, the straight-tusked elephant, roamed! This species was slightly larger than an African elephant.
Palaeoloxodon antiquus had long, straight tusks, too! Perhaps this elephant’s above-average height is what contributed to its tusks being able to grow down straight as well.
16. Both African and Asian Elephants Are Under Threat!
Though elephants surely are majestic, drawing visitors from all around the world, they’re also dwindling in numbers. This is due mainly to the demand for ivory and the urbanization of land.
Unfortunately, the African elephant is now vulnerable, and the Asian elephant is endangered. Asian elephants may not be the main target for poaching due to some males having small tusks.
However, their species is mainly affected by the destruction of their natural habitat due to mass urbanization. Only thanks to conservation efforts to help do both elephant species still exist!
17. There is a Black Market for Ivory!
Ivory poaching involves killing elephants for their tusks, which are then carved into jewelry or statues or made into medicine. Tusks are valued at hundreds to thousands of dollars per kg.
Legal ivory markets around the world allow the sale of antique ivory and certain legal ivory stockpiles. However, this legal market is sometimes used as a cover to sell illegal ivory.
Ivory trading was banned worldwide in 1989, with many countries banning the trade of ivory domestically thereafter. Illegal ivory comes from illegal poaching and the black market.
The black market ivory trade has had a severe impact on elephant populations. Besides being claimed to have medicinal effects, buyers believe that ivory is a symbol of wealth and affluence.
18. Elephant Tusks Are Teeth Just Like Ours, Just Bigger!
One interesting elephant fact for kids is that elephant tusks aren’t actually that strange, though they may be large! You see, tusks are actually enlarged incisor teeth, much like ours.
Similar to a sharp set of predators’ teeth, tusks are mainly a form of protection. Elephants use their tusks to protect themselves as well as to forage, rip off tree bark, and dig for roots!
19. Some Female African Elephants Are Born With No Tusks!
Did you know that, though most African elephants are born with tusks, be they male or female, some females aren’t?
As many as 4% are born like this; however, more and more are being born without any tusks! These tuskless elephants don’t appeal to ivory poachers, so they have a high survival rate.
As such, these elephants live to procreate, passing on their tuskless genes to their babies. This phenomenon is resulting in a higher and higher tuskless female African elephant population.
Luckily, this evolution is favorable for elephants as it boosts their chances of survival. Perhaps this evolution and natural selection will help keep the elephants around for years to come.
20. Elephant Herds Are Matriarchal, Not Patriarchal!
Another very interesting elephant fact for kids is that elephant herds are matriarchal, not patriarchal. This means the herd is headed by a female elephant, not a bull!
Yes, elephant herds are led by an older female elephant! In fact, herds are usually made up of around a handful, up to two dozen mothers, sisters, daughters, and baby elephants!
21. Female Elephants are Pregnant for More Than a Year
Female elephants are pregnant for a longer period than any other land mammals. This might be surprising, but a female elephant’s fetus takes a total of 22 months to fully develop in the womb.
Elephants are pregnant for almost two years, unlike the human fetus, which fully develops in 9 months.
The reason behind this is that the weight of a baby elephant is much more, around 200 to 300 pounds during birth. Another reason is that they are born with fully developed brains, so they can walk, eat, and survive on their own.
22. Male Elephants Leave the Herd Early
Female elephants are known to live their entire lives with the herd, which comprises other female members and calves, whereas male elephants leave the herd between the ages of 12-15. After reaching this age, they prefer to live alone or with other male members.
23. Elephants Cannot Jump
It is not surprising when we say that elephants cannot jump due to their large body size. But there are also other reasons behind this incapability.
First of all, elephants can easily do their daily activities without jumping. For example, predators do not attack elephants because they are threatened by their size, so there is no need for them to run or jump to escape. When it comes to food, they are easily accessible to them without any extra hassle.
Another reason is the structure of their bones. Unlike humans, their leg bones are pointed downwards, eliminating the spring required to jump.
24. Elephants are Great Swimmers
Elephants are known for being great swimmers, and they love water. They can float effortlessly in the water due to their large body size. Elephants use their trunks as snorkels to breathe while swimming, and they swim for hours.
So, apart from eating and drinking, elephant trunks are also helpful for swimming. Despite their heavy weight, they also have the ability to swim.
25. Elephants Dislike Bees and Ants
Do you know these big mammals are afraid of ants and bees? It’s surprising how animals as big as elephants can fear such small insects, right?
These small creatures can get inside their trunks or ears and can create severe discomfort. Elephants avoid going to places where they can hear the buzzing of a hive or sense colonies of ants.
Elephants are such majestic animals. Hopefully, these fun and interesting elephant facts for kids have acquainted you with these creatures and their unique features!
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