Kids are little curious beings, and their never-ending urge to know more is something that can actually keep the parents racking their brains most of the time. If your little one is an elephant fan and wants to know more about this majestic mammal, this article will come to your rescue! Here, are some amazing and exciting facts about elephants parents must share with their kids!
What Are the Species of Elephants?
Elephants are found in various parts of the world, and these giant animals are broadly categorised into three species – Asian Elephants or Elephas Maximus, African Busha Elephant or Loxodonta Africana, and African Forest Elephant or Loxodonta cyclotis. The differences in these species are their size and ears. Asian elephants are smaller in size than their African counterparts and have lesser pronounced and smaller ears. Another interesting fact is that Asian elephants have a tiny, finger-like structure at the end of their trunks, while African elephants have two of these finger-like structures!
Asian elephants are majorly found in the tropical forests of India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia, and African elephants are mostly found in the tropical forests of west and central Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Sahel desert.
Where Do They Live?
Elephants prefer to stay in habitats that are close to any kind of water body. However, forests, deserts, marshes, savannahs, etc., are also some of the commonplaces of elephant habitat!
How Long Do They Live?
Elephants live a long life, and in comparison to various other land mammals, they have a comparatively longer life span. Also, if they live in their natural habitats with ample food and water options, they can live up to 70 years or more. Just like humans, stress can take a toll on the life spans of elephants, too. Some of the factors that can cause stress in elephants are lack of proper food and water sources in their habitats, illegal hunting, illnesses, etc. Illegal poaching and hunting have always been the cause of concern in the declining population of elephants.
What Do They Eat?
Elephants are huge, which means they need to eat a lot of food to fuel up their bodies. These big mammals are herbivores and eat only plants. They spend most of their day (almost 16 hours) eating because they need to fill up their large tummies to get through the day. The large food intake is also because of their sluggish digestive system. This means that elephants can only digest around 40% of the food they eat, which is why they need to hoard more calories to make up for the loss of nutrients from the previous meal.
Some of the foods that elephants enjoy eating include bamboos, twigs, seeds, flowers, grass, fruits, etc.
How Big Do They Grow?
Elephants are gigantic animals, and their huge size is what attracts us to these magnificent creatures. A fully grown Asian elephant can be anywhere from 7 to 10 feet in height (feet to shoulder height) and weigh approximately 6000 to 9000 pounds. African elephants can grow anywhere from 8 to 13 feet in height (feet to shoulder height) and weigh between 5000 to 22000 pounds.
Whom Are the Elephants Afraid Of?
Well, when it comes to being afraid of something, one may wonder what might scare these mighty creatures. But, it is a surprising fact that elephants are scared of bees! Yes, as weird or strange it may sound, these gigantic animals are petrified of tiny, little bees. It has been observed that when surrounded by bees, elephants tend to exhibit weird behaviour by flapping their ears vigorously, stomping their feet, making noises, kicking dust, and even running away.
The fear of bees is so pronounced that African farmers use it in their favour and place beehives close to their farms to keep off the elephants.
Who Are the Predators of the Elephant?
Well, when it comes to predators, these giants do not have to worry because there are no natural predators. But sometimes, the weak, sick, or young elephants may become the prey of lions, tigers, or other big cats. However, the most unfortunate fact is that humans are the biggest threat to these stunning creatures. Humans are not only destroying their natural habitat but also hunting them illegally for their ivory tusk.
Because of inhuman practices, Asian elephants are endangered, and African elephants have been categorised as vulnerable species!
How Can We Help Them?
If elephants’ illegal hunting and poaching do not stop, there may come a time when these magnificent creatures will only be seen in books! Can something be done to save these stunning animals? To begin with, we need to have stringent measures that put a stop to hunting or poaching of elephants. There should be endeavours to sustain and preserve their natural habitats, and efforts should be integrated towards providing self-sustaining zoos.
More Fun Facts About Elephants for Children
Here are some more fun facts about elephants for kids to amuse their young minds:
- Elephants have long noses, which are called the trunks! Elephants use them to breathe and to perform other important tasks, such as lifting things, showing affection, and even spraying water.
- Elephant babies are known as calves, and at birth, they weigh around 200 pounds and are approximately 3 feet tall. Just like human babies, these calves are dependent on their mothers. The mother not only protects her calf from predators but also teaches it to hunt for food.
- Elephants often smear mud on their bodies. This may seem weird, but smearing mud protects them from the scorching heat and also saves them from bugs and ticks.
- Elephants need water for more reasons other than quenching their thirst and keeping themselves hydrated. They use it for bathing, keeping their bodies cool, or simply playing. Elephants drink large amounts (approximately 50 gallons or more) of water in one go!
- Where human babies are born approximately nine months after conception, elephant babies or calves are born in approximately 22 months. Unlike human babies, these calves not only start walking right after birth but also have fully developed brains. This developed brain helps them walk independently, eat independently, and understand their position and role in the herd.
- Don’t go on their enormous size; when it comes to swimming, it helps them to keep afloat on water and helps them to swim. Elephants can actually swim long distances, and their trunk proves to be of great help in doing so!
- Elephants are social beings and love to communicate. They use various kinds of sounds, such as snorting, roaring, crying, rumbling, etc., to communicate their feelings. They also have excellent hearing that allows them to listen to sounds, even from five miles away! Their feet help them feel the sound vibrations, which travel through land at a decibel that is audible to elephants.
- Elephants live in herds, which are formed only by female elephants. A herd can range anywhere from 8 to 100! The oldest elephant is the leader or the head of the herd. The herd also consists of male elephants, but they leave the herd by the time they are 12 to 15 years of age. These males either live with other male elephants or wander alone.
- One of the most interesting elephant facts for kindergarten kids is that elephants cannot jump because of their bone structure! The bones in their legs are pointed downwards, which makes it difficult for them to jump.
Elephants are mesmerising creatures, but these animals may become extinct without our help and support in the future. Therefore, proper measures and steps must be taken to help them thrive, and educating our children about these creatures is one baby step in that direction!