For Kids: Facts About Elephants!

Learn facts about elephants, including what they eat, how they live, how big they are, how they talk and more!

Elephants are wonderful animals! They are the largest mammals in the world that live on land. There are two kinds of elephants; African and Asian. Asian elephants have smaller ears and shorter tusks than African elephants. The African elephant is bigger and taller than the Asian elephant.

Do elephants live together?

Elephants live in families. Several families live together in a "herd." The leader of the herd is usually the oldest female elephant. She is called the "matriarch." All the babies and other females follow her.

A young male elephant stays with the herd until he is fourteen or fifteen years old. Then, he goes out on his own. The young male will try to find a female elephant for a companion.

What do elephants eat?

Elephants are plant-eaters. Because they are such big animals, they need to eat large amounts of leaves, grass and tree bark. They spend as much as twenty hours a day eating! A full-grown African elephant can weigh more than 10,000 pounds!

Teeth and Tusks

Elephants have four teeth and two "tusks." The tusks are the long horn-like parts that come out the sides of their mouths. These tusks grow about seven inches a year, and can get up to twenty feet long! The tusks are made of ivory, which is very valuable.

The elephants four teeth are molars. About every four years, the molars fall out and are replaced by new ones. The molars of an adult elephant can be up to ten inches long!



Ears and Trunks

The ears of a full-grown African elephant are about five to six feet long and four feet wide. They sometimes flap their ears to cool themselves.

An elephant's trunk is actually part nose and part upper lip. Elephants can breathe through their trunks. They can also smell and pick up things with it. They can use it to put food into their mouths, and can even spray water with it! The trunk is used to feel things, too!

How do elephants cool themselves?

When it is hot, elephants like to get into water and mud. They also use their trunks to spray water and dust on their bodies. Wrinkles on their skin trap the water and help with the cooling.

How do elephants talk?

Elephants talk to each other by making sounds called "tummy rumbles." They also make a "trumpeting" sound to call to each other.

How long do elephants live?

Elephants can live as long as eighty years!

**********

You can see elephants in zoos. Many zoos work hard to keep the elephants happy, by providing them with the kind of habitat they would have if they were out in the wild.

A great number of elephants have been shot so people could get their ivory tusks. People all over the world have tried to stop this cruel killing of elephants. Now, very few are killed for their ivory, and there are laws to protect the elephants.

In the past, many elephants were trained to perform tricks for circuses. They were often treated in a cruel manner. Today, there are laws to protect elephants and to ensure they are well-cared for.

Elephants should be treasured. They are the "gentle giants" of the animal kingdom!

*****

Wonderful Elephants!

© High Speed Ventures 2011