Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Three species are recognised, the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant.
Elephants are some of the most loved and admired creatures on earth. While coveted for their valuable ivory tusks, used to transport heavy cargo, or for primary symbolism in religious ceremonies, Elephants have become key figures not only in the animal kingdom, but also among many rural and traditional civilizations. Among the most commonly known facts about Elephants are: they can weigh anywhere between 6,000 and 15,000 lbs; are herbivores that enjoy the occasional sweet banana and sugar cane; and love to travel and hunt in large pacts. But, there are so many unique and dazzling traits about the Elephant that are largely unknown. Below is a list of 10 facts about Elephants which may surprise the most observant Elephant lover.
1) Ever wondered how groups of Elephants communicate with each other over long distances? Their infrequent whine would be a good guess, but not nearly as awesome as the answer. Studies show that pacts of Elephants can stomp the ground with their feet, sending sub-sonic ripples through the ground, which the receiving pact can collect through the sensitive nerves in their feet! This ground-shaking rumble is so powerful and fast, it is transported faster than sound waves through the air.
2) Yes, Elephants are herbivores, but that doesn’t mean that they will simply eat anything that wasn’t in the form of a dead specie. Elephants actually have food preferences and peanuts is most certainly not one of them. Elephants detest the woody taste of peanuts so much, they avoid them in the wildlife and when in zoos, keepers are careful to remember not include them in their diet.
3) Elephants don’t just have an infatuation with sand, it’s a necessity for them. Despite their seemingly tough, weather-worn wrinkled skin, Elephants have the tendency to get sunburned. To avoid suffering under harsh rays of sunlight, Elephants douse their bodies in sand by using their trunks to toss it over their backs and legs. This procedure serves as a skin protector against rays and irritating insects. Elephants also take care to rub their young in sand, as their skin is more sensitive.
4) How much food and water must an Elephant consume everyday to stay strong and healthy? Elephants require up to forty gallons of water per day, and need as much as 400 pounds of food daily in order to survive.
5) While humans have only two sets of teeth in their lifetime (milk teeth and permanent), Elephants gain six sets of twenty-six teeth over the span of their seventy years. Each new set of teeth push the old ones out and take root. If this process is for some reason prohibited, an Elephant can face death by starvation.
6) Tusks are, along with the trunk, the most recognizable traits of an Elephant. However, unlike the African Elephants, not all Asian Elephants have tusks. The female Asian Elephants do not have the privilege of tusks and only some of the male Asian Elephants are born with these highly sought after traits.
7) The Elephant can dazzle observers with their ground communication techniques, walk at the crawling pace of four miles per hour, and can actually swim for long distances at a time. What the Elephant cannot do is jump because of its enormous weight, or gallop away when under threat.
8) Massive Elephant herds are led by the most experienced or aged Elephant who is a matriarch. Both female and males will follow her lead, but for males, they tend to leave the herd after twelve years to join their male peers.
9) The legs of an Elephant are perhaps the strongest parts of its entire body. Carrying more than 6,000 lbs of weight, the Elephant’s legs don’t get easily fatigued, because the Elephant does not sleep lying down. So sturdy are it’s pillar-like legs that the Elephant simply falls asleep standing up for two to three hours at a time before returning to eat or migrate from one destination to the next.
10) There are thousands of nerves in an Elephant’s trunk, and many observations over years have proven that Elephants are extremely emotional creatures capable of mimicking sounds, feeling sadness, glee, and anger. Even more interesting is how many emotional or traditional traits Elephants have in common with humans. Young Elephants suck their trunks for comfort just as young human infants suck their thumbs. In terms of tradition, Elephants become very attached to each other in pacts, so when an Elephant grows old or sick, its fellow Elephants band together to help the Elephant eat, drink, and stand. When such nurturing methods fail and the Elephant dies, funeral processions are held where Elephants pause their travels, have silence, grieve, and finally, bury the Elephant by digging a ditch and covering the body with sand.
Clancy's comment: I've seen hundreds of them over the years, and I still enjoy watching them. An amazing creature.