Elephants are the biggest terrestrial creatures living, so it seems sense that they would consume a lot. And you’d be right—a person could live off the calories an elephant consumes each day for months.
So what do elephants consume to become such enormous creatures? You’ve come to the correct spot if you’re curious about what elephants put in their enormous tummies. The complete list of foods that elephants consume is shown below.
Elephants are herbivores
Elephants are considered to be herbivorous creatures. Understand what this means? Let’s check again:
The Latin word herbivora is where the term “herbivore” originates. Latin’s herba and vora both denote tiny plants or herbs. Animals that solely consume plants and/or vegetables are called herbivores.
Elephants only consume plants and bushes that are in their native habitat.
In any case, elephants have evolved to eat and drink from the green leaves that nature plants on her gentle breast, namely from the neighboring water sources.
The internal environment of their bodies and their external eating portions began to change as a result of their decision to follow such a vegetarian diet. An elephant now has flat teeth for grinding leaves and tusks for removing tree bark.
Do you realize that elephants periodically replace their teeth? They are known as polyphyodont for this reason. Despite being mammals, elephants don’t have teeth as humans do. We develop baby teeth, which are later replaced by adult permanent teeth.
Find out right away the specifics of an elephant’s regular diet. It will be very cumbersome. If you have a pair of glasses, you can easily clean them.
What is an African elephant?
To begin with, even when compared to other elephant species, African elephants are the biggest terrestrial creatures in the world. These elephants mainly inhabit the rainforests of Central and West Africa as well as the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.
The lifestyle of African elephants has a significant impact on the surrounding ecosystem, making them one of the most important species in their habitats. For instance, during the dry season, African elephants are known to use their tusks to dig up places in the earth for water, which would undoubtedly help the entire local ecosystem’s animals.
Not to mention that they just devour and down trees when foraging for food, creating pathways for animals to pass across. Read more in our blog post titled “Four Reasons the Environment Needs Elephants” to learn more about their landscaping abilities.
What Do African Forest Elephants Eat?
One of the two remaining species of African elephants is the African bush elephant, usually referred to as the African savannah elephant.
The majority of the 37 African nations where these elephants live are in sub-Saharan Africa. Grasslands, woodlands, marshes, and cropland at varying altitudes make up the majority of their habitats. Many will climb mountains to get food; some have even been discovered at elevations higher than 8,000 feet!
These elephants have highly diversified diets made up of the plants they collect during their extensive daily grazing periods because they frequently switch between different sorts of habitats.
Soil (to consume its salt and other minerals like iron and potassium)
These creatures are well equipped to tearing the bark off of trees and snatching whole branches into their mouths thanks to their powerful trunks and huge, flat teeth. Additionally, they will dig with their tusks and feet to locate subterranean water sources or to access soil that is rich in minerals near trees.
What do elephants eat in the Savanna?
Elephants consume weeds like Rubber Vine, Mesquite, Prickly Pear, etc. on the savanna. Additionally, they consume various tree pieces that are found in the Savanna area. Elephants favor Acacia and Bushwillow trees, among others.
I have a fascinating fact for you. Do you know that infant elephants consume their mother’s dung in order to digest their meals?
Do you know about the tree standing on its head? The Baobab – The Upside Down Tree is described here.
What is an Asian elephant?
Asian elephants are significantly smaller than African elephants, although they are still the biggest terrestrial animals in Asia. Asian elephants are mainly located in remote regions of India and Southeast Asia, however they have occasionally been observed traveling farther with their herd.
The Asian elephant can have skin that ranges from brown to gray in hue, and it has pink markings on its ears, forehead, chest, and trunk. In comparison to African elephants, Asian elephants often have smaller, rounder ears. Read more to learn more about the variations between Asian and African elephants.
What do Asian elephants eat?
The third species of elephants now identified is the Asian elephant. Although they can occasionally be found in portions of China, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, among others, they mostly reside in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Nepal and are spread throughout 13 different nations.
As a result of their preference for grasslands and dense forests throughout Asia, Asian elephants frequently consume a variety of locally-adapted plant species.
These elephants resemble both varieties of African elephants, however they are smaller and have weaker tusks than the latter two. In addition, Asian elephants have smoother skin, rounder ears, and a longer, more tapered lower lip form than African elephants.
African Elephant Diet
African elephants only consume plant-based meals since they are natural herbivores, which describes their diet. Due to the scarcity of grasslands in Africa, they mostly forage in woods, hence their favorite meal is made up of branches, twigs, and bark, which accounts for around 70% of their diet.
According to some surveys, the average African elephant consumes more than 300 distinct plant kinds. In essence, this implies that you can expect the African elephant will nab everything that is green and leafy nearby.
The African elephant also consumes a considerable amount of fruit, grass, and mineral lick. Their nutrition is totally based on the area they are in and the resources that are available.
How Much Do Elephants Drink?
Approximately 225 liters (59.4 US gallons) of water are used daily by an adult elephant. And occasionally, this will take place on a single trip to a bar.
Do elephants swig liquids from their trunks? No. Elephants, according to SPANA, suck up a full trunk of water before emptying it into their mouths to drink it.
How much water can be stored in an elephant’s trunk? The capacity of an elephant’s trunk ranges from 4 to 8 liters.
Accordingly, an adult elephant may need to fill its trunk 28 to 56 times daily.
Elephants eat too much
Elephants can consume 150–160 kg of food on average each day! Yes, all in one day. Do you know the amount of water they consume? An elephant consumes 40 to 45 liters of water on average per day. Yeah! They are able to gulp plenty of water.
Their food intake is influenced by a number of variables, including their habitat’s ecology, food availability, and other biological requirements. Elephants who live in hot climates tend to drink more water than elephants that live in climates that are more typically temperate.
Elephants must struggle in certain locations to find water. In similar situations, they consume a lot of water to make up for the water that has been lost from their bodies.
I have a fascinating fact for you. Do you know that elephants travel great distances to get food and water? They must go 10–20 kilometers each day to obtain enough food and water for the entire family.
Elephants have been known to travel up to 90–180 kilometres per day in the Etosha area of Namibia in search of food! They are the genuine warriors of the animal world. They keep together while traveling such great distances to get food when they become hungry. They discover it and share it thereafter. We can learn from it.
How Much Do Elephants Eat?
According to the Royal Society, elephants eat roughly 440 pounds (200 kg) of food each day.
This indicates that an elephant eats 6.3 ounces (180 grams) of food on average every minute. This translates to two corn cobs each minute.
An adult elephant’s digestive system may contain up to 900 pounds (400 kg) at any given time.
Ten adult elephants in the Kruger National Park in South Africa weighed an average of 915 lb (415 kg) in independent investigations, whereas three adult elephants in Kenya weighed 1074 lb (487 kg).
Why do elephants eat that much?
Elephants are not little creatures that can lie about all day eating leaves. An equivalent amount of food is required for an elephant’s enormous physique. They cannot live without it. But the mother nature has supplied for us all. So why should they consume less food?
Elephants use an average of 40 liters of water and 150 kilograms of food each day for the following reasons:
They require a lot of energy to survive.
They typically travel great distances each day. With such a big physique, traveling 15–30 kilometers requires enough food for their survival.
Natural water is rare in arid areas. Elephants living there use a lot of water to be hydrated and to stockpile water for their upcoming journey.
What about Baby Elephant Diets?
Because their stomachs are unable to process the food that adult elephants eat, young elephants must sip their mother’s milk to be nourished. If not removed from their mothers, baby elephants consume their mothers’ milk for around two years, and occasionally up to 10 years.
Elephant calves often consume three litres of milk every day. A special milk formula will be provided to baby elephants that are taken from the wild as orphans or for other reasons, as you can see, to assist their bodies get the nutrition they need to thrive.
Baby elephants go through a transition period, similar to human infants, when they begin to consume meals other than milk, usually around the age of four months. Baby elephants now begin to consume vegetation while still consuming their mother’s milk.
Also, don’t be shocked if you find an infant elephant munching on its mother’s dung during this transitional phase. To build up good bacteria in their digestive tracts that will help them break down and digest the plant materials they ingest, baby elephants may consume the excrement of their herd.
In one of our most viewed blog pieces, “Why Do Newborn Elephants Suck on Their Trunks?,” you can learn more about baby elephants.
In conclusion, the elephant nutrition differs substantially depending on whether it is an Asian or African elephant. All elephant species appear to have two traits: a love of greenery and a passion for food, from twigs to bark.
Therefore, don’t be shocked if you hear that an elephant may browse for food for up to 18 hours a day since they are gigantic, gorgeous creatures that have to make up for their enormous and outstanding appetite.