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Elephants are the biggest land animals in the world. The African elephant is found on the continent of Africa and the Indian elephant is found in Asia. Elephants are mammals as well as herbivores, meaning they only eat plants rather than meat.
Types of Elephants
There are two main types of elephants: the African elephant and the Indian elephant.
- African elephant - The African elephant is bigger than the Indian elephant. It has larger ears, too. Both the males and females have tusks. The African elephant has wrinkly gray skin, a swayed back, and two tips at the end of its trunk that it can use like fingers to pick stuff up.
- Indian elephant - The Indian, or Asian, elephant is smaller than the African elephant and has smaller ears. They have more of a humped back and only one fingerlike tip at the end of their trunk. Also, their skin tends to be less wrinkly than the African elephant.
Just how big are they?
Elephants are truly gigantic animals. They can grow to 11 feet tall and can weigh up to 13,000 pounds. The largest elephant ever was 13 feet tall and weighed 24,000 pounds! Elephants' appetites are as big as their size. They can eat up to 400 pounds and drink up to 30 gallons of water each day.
What do they look like?
Elephants have many interesting features including giant ears, long tusks, and a huge trunk. Elephants flap their giant ears to cool off. Their tusks can be up to 10 feet long. Elephants use their tusks to dig or scrape the bark off of trees. Sometimes they use them to fight. Their tusks continue to grow for their entire life.
An Elephant's trunk is their most versatile appendage. Elephants use their long trunks to pick up food as small as a blade of grass, but also to pull down tree branches to get to food. Elephants also use their trunk to drink, smell, and suck up water to spray themselves for a bath.
Are they smart?
Elephants are considered very intelligent. They have very sophisticated social structures and methods of communication. They also are very skilled with tools and can be trained for all sorts of tasks. Maybe there is some truth to the saying that "an elephant never forgets".
A baby elephant is called a calf. Like all mammals the babies feed off their mother's milk. They are hairy and usually are between two and three feet tall.
Are they endangered?
Because of their size and prized ivory tusks, elephants have long been a favorite of big game hunters. Too much hunting has caused the elephant population to diminish rapidly. Elephants are now a protected species throughout the world.
Fun Facts About Elephants
- An elephant's skin can be up to one inch thick, but it is also very sensitive.
- The biggest elephant ever weighed 24,000 pounds and was 13 feet tall.
- They can hear each other's calls up to 5 miles away.
- Male elephants, or bulls, live alone once they become adults. However, the females, or cows, live in tight family groups led by the oldest female, called a matriarch.
- They have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing and sense of smell.
- Contrary to popular belief, elephants don't really like peanuts.
- They will throw sand and dirt on their backs to keep from getting sunburned.
- An elephant is smart enough to recognize itself in a mirror.
For more about mammals:
African Wild Dog
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