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21 Memorable Facts About Elephants

Last Reviewed and Updated on June 16, 2022

You won’t need a memory of an elephant to memorize all these facts about elephants as all of them are fascinating. Elephants are the largest living land animals and are only bested by some whales if we take all animals into account. 

These impressive animals are very intelligent and have some of the characteristics you won’t find in any other living animal. Read on and learn some of these cool elephant facts.

1. There are 3 living species of elephant

Two of the species can be seen in Africa, the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). One species is native to Asia; the Asian elephant (Elephas Maximus). you will not make

There are over 180 species of extinct elephants.

2. You can tell the African and Asian elephants apart by their ears

There are many differences between these species, but one of the easiest ways to tell them apart is by looking at their ears. African elephants have large ears and Asian elephants have ears that are noticeably smaller than those of their African counterparts. 

African elephants are also larger and heavier than Asian elephants and have more prominent longer tusks.

For those with observant eyes, there is also a difference in the shape of their heads, with African elephants having rounded heads and Asian elephants having heart-shaped heads.

3. Elephant is the heaviest living land animal

The largest animal on the planet is the blue whale, but on land alone, the African elephant is by far the biggest by weight.

Elephants are considered the largest land animals, however, if height would be the most important factor, giraffes would take the title.

4. Their trunk is a multi-purpose tool

Their elongated nose is called a trunk and they use it in many ways. As a trunk is a nose its primary function is breathing and smelling. 

The elephant also uses the trunk to carry food and water to its mouth. They will also use it for grasping objects, which they are capable of using as tools.

5. Female elephants live in groups, males live solo or with other males

Females usually live with other females they are related to and their offspring. These groups are usually led by the oldest female in the group that is called a matriarch. Matriarchs are very important in elephant society as they will guide the herd, the more skilled and knowledgeable the matriarch, the better the chances the herd has.

When their male offspring reach puberty, they leave the group and they will continue living on their own or will live in the company of other males.

6. Fascinating fact about elephants: they can communicate with seismic communication

Elephants are quite social. They will interact with each other through sounds, sight, smell, and touch. But that is not all! They can also communicate with seismic communication over long distances. Their feet can detect vibrations on the ground and this allows them to communicate, or to better put it, understand and maintain contact with other herds. They can distinguish and interpret seismic cues (Keeping an “Ear” to the ground: Seismic Communication in Elephants).

7. All elephant species are endangered

This is one of the facts about elephants we can’t be proud of, as the main reason for their endangerment are humans. Poachers hunt and kill elephants for their ivory tusks. Tusks are then sold on black markets. Habitat destruction is another thing that threatens their existence and once again humans are to blame.

African bush elephants and Asian elephants are endangered and the African elephant is a critically endangered species.

8. People used elephants in the war

War elephants were trained for combat. They were used to charge the enemy and they were effective in lowering the morale of the enemy and sending shivers down their spines. They were used mainly in Asia, but were also used in battles in the Mediterranean, Macedonian armies, ancient Greece, and North Africa… 

9. Tusks are modified teeth

Elephants usually have 26 teeth and second incisors of the upper jaws have evolved into tusks.

10. Tusks grow continuously

Elephant tusks grow continuously at a rate of 7 inches / 17 centimeters per year. As they use the tusks for many tasks, they do slowly wear off so continuous growth is important.

11. Cool elephant fact: they have a dominant tusk

Just like the majority of humans have a dominant hand, either left or right, the same goes for elephant tusks. They will use one tusk more than the other.

12. Both male and female elephants (usually) have tusks

With African elephants, both females and males generally have large tusks. With Asian elephants, the difference is notable between the sexes, as females have smaller tusks or don’t have tusks at all.

Poaching of elephants gave rise to tuskless elephants, as elephants with a “tuskless” gene had a better chance of survival. In some areas, a population of tuskless female elephants is greater than those with tusks (elephants evolving to lose their tusks). A sad fact.

13. Elephant skin care: they use mud as sunscreen

This is one of the more interesting facts about elephants, they use mud as sunscreen. While they have thick skin it is also pretty sensitive and can be prone to burning. They will bathe themselves in mud, or water and spray themselves with dust and the mud will protect their skin from the sun as well as from insect bites.

14. They have a good memory

There is a good reason behind the popular phrase “An elephant never forgets”. Elephants can remember locations, other elephants, and humans they have interacted with, even after many years. 

15. Elephants can swim and they are good at it

It may be surprising, considering their size, but elephants are excellent swimmers. They can even use their trunk as a snorkel, so they can also dive.

16. They have hair all over their body

Not exactly to the extent of their extinct cousin’s mammoths who lived in the stone age, but they do have hair all over their body, unevenly scattered.

17. Elephants can’t jump

This is one of the most fun facts about elephants. They can’t jump. And they are the only known mammal besides a sloth that is incapable of having all 4 of their feet off the ground at the same time. When walking or running they will always have at least one foot on the ground at all times. 

18. They are not afraid of mice

Elephants fearing mice is a popular myth but is far from the truth. They don’t care about the mice and won’t be bothered by them. The fear of mice is a myth.

19. They have the longest pregnancy of all animals

A female African elephant will carry her baby for a whopping 22 months. Asian elephants have a gestation period of 18 to 22 months.

20. Another interesting elephant fact: they mourn their death

They recognize the dead members of their species (at different stages of decomposing) and will be curious and investigate the body. They will visit and revisit the bodies of elephants and their social interactions will increase (Elephant behavior toward the dead)

21. Female elephants are called cows, male bulls and a young one is called a calf

And a group of elephants is called a herd. And with this, we conclude this list of facts about elephants.

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