The Elephant is the largest land mammal on Earth. Elephants are about 10 feet tall, 21 feet in length, and weigh more than 13,000 pounds! There are actually 2 main kinds of animals: the African and the Asian elephant. Asian elephants are smaller than African, with shorter tusks and smaller ears. The ears of an African elephant are about 5 feet in length and 4 feet wide! These huge ears help keep an elephant cool in warm weather. Elephants have 4 teeth called molars and 2 long tusks made of ivory. Did you know that an elephant's tusks can grow as many as 7 inches in a year?? The long trunk of the animal acts as both a nose and lip: the elephant can smell with the trunk and use it to bring food to its mouth.
Elephants are found mainly in warm climates: forests and open grasslands alike make a good home. Asian elephants live in tropical forest regions throughout the continent while African elephants are often seen in the open plains and savanahs of Central Africa. Both kinds need to be near water. Groups of elephants travel together, looking for more land to graze and food to eat. Elephants are plant eaters--they will not hunt other animals for food. They love all kinds of leaves, fruit, and grasses, but they have to eat almost all day to get the energy they need! Unfortunately, elephants are at risk due to deforestation due to human settlement and poaching for their ivory tusks.
Elephants live in families. Several families live and travel together in a group called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest female. Like all mammals, female elephants produce milk to feed their young and give birth to live offspring. Did you know that female elephants will carry their offspring for 22 months before it is born?? Usually there is only 1 calf per birthing. Mothers will care for their young for about 15 years. After that time, the males will leave the herd to join another group or start a new herd of their own.