Elephant

Elena Lehner Period 8 5/16/2016

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Habitat

Elephants are found in multiple regions, such as forests, savannas, and rainforests. They are spread throughout certain areas of Asia and Africa. The Asian elephant, one of the two common types of elephants, is found in India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Southern China, and other countries (Elephants: Proboscidea). African elephants inhabit regions below the Sahara desert in Africa (elephant, The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). In order for an elephant to call an area its home, it must contain lots of different plants to eat, water that is about a day's journey away at the most, and lots of room to move with no humans close by. Elephants can knock down trees to make open, grassy area (Elephants: Proboscidea). Elephants are great swimmers. They not only take baths and play in the water, but wade into lakes or ponds to cool off when temperatures are high (Room for an Elephant).

Movement

Elephants are very heavy animals. An African elephant reach over 14,000 pounds, or over 6 tons (Elephant 2)! Even though they are so big, they surprisingly walk without making much noise. Their four, strong legs (Elephants: Proboscidea) keep their weight moving forward as they walk (Elephant 2). Elephants have supportive padding under each foot that helps support their huge weight. This cushioning actually makes elephants walk on their toes. Elephants normally walk 4 miles per hour, but can charge at up to 25 miles per hour (Elephant 2). They also cannot jump since they are too heavy and their legs aren't built for it (Elephant 2). Elephants are excellent swimmers and can swim for partially long distances (Elephant).
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Body Covering

Both African and Asian elephants have wrinkly and baggy gray skin. Africa elephants are dark gray, while Asian elephants have light gray skin and sometimes have white or pink blotches (Elephant). When elephants are born, most are lightly covered in brown, black, or amber hair that eventually disappears (Elephant). Even though adults look like they do not have any hair, there are small hairs on the trunk and legs, around the eyes, ears, and mouth, and long, black hair on the end of the tail (Elephant). African elephants have more wrinkly skin on their trunk than Asian elephants (Elephant).

Diet

All elephants are herbivores and eat lots of plants from bushes to grass (Elephants: Proboscidea). Their favorites are coconuts, berries, corn, dates, and sugar cane (Elephant). Sometimes if the leaves are high up on a tree, they will use their head to knock it down and eat it. They can peel the bark off of trees with their tusks to eat as well (Elephant). Elephants eat not only flowers and stems of plants, but will consume everything it can eat such as bark, twigs, bulbs, leaves, and roots (Elephants: Proboscidea). They eat from 220 to 660 pounds of vegetation each day! Elephants also drink up to 200 liters, or 53 gallons of water daily. If water is not in reach, they dig ditches in dried up lakes so that they can use their trunks to drink the water that streams out (Elephants: Proboscidea). Elephants can also survive for three days at the maximum without water (Elephant).

Reproduction

Female elephants are able to reproduce around thirteen and fourteen (Elephants: Proboscidea). Male elephants, or bulls, are adults by around thirteen (Elephant). Behind each eye, male elephants have a temporal gland that can become bigger or release a dark, strong-smelling liquid and stains the skin on its face (Elephant). This lasts for 2 to 3 months each year for bulls around twenty-five and is called musth. Captive males can become dangerous during this period of sexual excitement (Elephant). Musth occurs when bulls make more testosterone, a male hormone. Females usually mate will males in musth rather than ones not in musth since the aggressive bulls can defend them (Elephant). The gestation of the female elephant is 22 months. This means the calf will be born during rainy weather, when lots of plants grow, giving plentiful food for both the calf and the cow (Elephants: Proboscidea). Other females help deliver the baby as the cow gives birth standing up (Elephants: Proboscidea). Within an hour or so, the calf will already be standing and learning to walk (Elephants: Proboscidea). The baby curls its trunk upward to nurse and keeps nursing until it is about three or four months old (Elephant).

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Adaptations

The elephant has many adaptations. Elephants have trunks with they use to eat, breathe, smell, drink, pick up objects, and bathe (Elephant). It is not made of cartilage or bone. It is made of around 150,000 flexible muscles and is very powerful (Elephants: Proboscidea). Elephants do not have any sweat glands, so to stay cool in the heat, they roll in the mud. When it dries, it protects it from the sunlight and getting sunburn (Elephant). Elephants also mist water on themselves with their flexible trunk, and sometimes flap their big ears to help them cool down (Elephant). Most of their senses are very precise. Elephants can hear sounds and communicate from very far distances. They also have a very precise sense of smell, and can detect a human from over a mile away (Elephant)! The only predators elephants have are tigers or leopards, but they only hunt calves, and would not try to hunt in the first place when the mother or herd is nearby (Elephant 2).
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Other Info

  • Elephants are the largest living land animal (Elephant)
  • Adult elephants' skin can reach up to 3 centimeters thick (Elephants: Proboscidea)
  • Elephants have just four molars (Elephant 2)
  • Newborn elephants usually weigh about 200 to 265 pounds (Elephants: Proboscidea)
  • Female elephants, cows, give birth to around 5 to 21 calves in their life (Elephant)
  • Elephants are an endangered species due to poaching for ivory from their tusks, skin for leather, and their meat (Elephants: Proboscidea)
  • 16 hours of an elephant's day is used to eat (Elephant)
  • The elephant is the last species left of the order Proboscidea (Elephant 2)
  • An adult's skin can reach up to 3 centimeters thick (Elephant)
  • Elephants are pachyderms. Pachyderms comes from the Greek word for thick-skinned (Elephant)

Works Cited


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