Monday, April 20, 2009


The elephant's most dangerous predator is the human. Besides our species, no other animal eats or hunts them. The elephant acts as a separate part of the grassland food web that consumes bark. The elephant eats more than bark though. They also consume grass, leaves, twigs, various types of fruit, and seed pods (2). Elephants can also feast upon farm crops (1). Elephants drink up to 30-50 gallons of water per day (2). Molars give elephants the ability to chew their food (1). Elephants have a large appetite. They can consume 300-400 lbs of food a day!

During youth, the elephants learn how to manuver their trunk to properly feed themselves (2). Elephants can react and communicate to each through sounds. The sounds produced are loud and can be heard from miles away (1). Sound travels a different way. When an elephant makes a sound, the "rumble" produced travels through the ground and reaches other elephants skin. The sound travels faster through the ground than the air, but both ways are used (4). Elephants also have a powerful memory (4). Matriarchs use their memeory to guide their herd to water holes they have found in the past (4). It is said that elephants display human emotions such as "grief and joy" (4). Here's some more information about the herds- As said before, the matriarch leads the herd and is usually the largest and oldest female. The herd can range from eight to two hundred elephants (4). Male elephants will eventually leave the herd and wander alone or join other herds. The matriarch provides the strongholds of the herd and family.
Elephants differ from other mammals in strength, not only for their size, but this particular physical characteristic-the trunk. The trunk has multiple purposes. Not only can the trunk lift objects, they can virtually tear limbs off trees (1). The AWF Wildlife foundation defines the trunk "as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging" (2). Elephants use their trunk as a hose to spray themselves to keep cool (3). The trunk has the ability to dig holes during the dry season (3). Elephants do this to find water in underground springs and receive important minerals (3). Elephants can revive forests! When they consume fruit they excrete seeds and produce more trees (3). Therefore elephants keep trees growing in their habitat and trees depend on elephants to survive.
Did you know that tusks are used to identify a specific elephant? Similar to our right and left hand, elephants can be either right or left tusked. Elephants use their "favored side" more often to prevent damage for the other tusk (2).

Picture sources: tusk picture


  1. What triggers these human emotions of grief and joy in the elephant? I also find it very interesting that their sound can travel through the ground and reach other elephants skin!

  2. I feel the elephant is always associated with peanuts. Do they actually eat peanuts or only when humans give them peanuts?

  3. Why do the male elephants leave the herd, and do they come back? I also find it interesting that the female elephant leads the herd as opposed to the males.

  4. I think it is very interesting that they can have human emotions. Also, is it known why they have such a good memory?

  5. Do elephants breathe out of their trunks? I have always wondered that.

  6. I never knew the strength of an elephant differed based on the type. Learning about their trucks just made me even more amazed at the complexness of their body. Have you ever wondered what a human would look like doing that? It would probably be pretty amazing yet very weird and disturbing. When you say dusting, is that the act of throwing dirt on their backs? Because I thought that was another way they helped themselves stay cool... Nice Job

  7. Thanks for all the questions. They really got me thinking....
    Stephanie-Elephants are known for their human- like reponses. They respond through noise during an instance of emotion. says that when an elephant seeks danger they can signal to their herd through their "language".
    Bekah- While researching on, I found that elephants do not eat peanuts in their natural diet. That is a great question, I never thought about that before!
    Alex- The males leave at puberty and I assume this signifies a "growing up" stage like when humans leave their household. Most males remain in solitude (they are known for this) or can travel to bachelor groups (a male herd). The males like to wander alone and may travel back to their original herd.
    Alyssa- I guess the elephant has always been known for their intelligence. Their memory helps them survive and find food. Their brains function this way.
    Hailey- Yes, the structure of the trunk contains nostrils. Elephants can breathe through their nose, or trunk.
    Brittany- Yes, that is what my website meant when I quoted it.

  8. Its physical adaptations like the trunk are soo interesting because it is so useful. I never realized how vital the trunk is to its survival, and the advantage it creates for the elephants in comparison to other neighboring animals. It was also humorous to discover an elephant can be right or left trunked.

  9. I love the picture of the 2 elephants making a heart with their trunks. I never knew that the sounds they make to communicate also traveled through the ground. That is amazing! I have always had this question: can elephants run? I mean they walk so slow because of their size, but can they actually "pick up a pace"? Great blog!