What Do Elephants Eat?

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What Do Elephants Eat? Elephants are the largest living mammals on land. They are notable for their magnificent tusks, trunks, and large ears, which can reach a length of 5 ft.

These enormous mammals are known for their excellent memory, given that they can remember watering holes and trails.

Elephants are herbivores. Their diet consists of leaves, grass, twigs, tree barks, and fruits.

What Do Elephants Eat?

Type of Elephant Diet
African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Grass, tree foliage, roots, twigs, bark, leaves, herbs, and fruits.
African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) Fruits, tree bark, leaves, and craves for salt.
Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Grass and a wide variety of plant species including palms and different legumes.

Elephants Diet by Types

Three extant species of elephants exist in the world today. These species will be explored in this section as well as their habitats.

What Do African Bush Elephants Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Proboscidea Elephantidae Loxodonta Loxodonta africana

What do African bush elephants eat?

African Bush Elephants are both browsers and grazers. Their diet consists of grass, tree foliage, roots, twigs, bark, leaves, herbs, and fruits.

  • The African bush elephant is famed for being the largest mammal on land.
  • This animal can grow to lengths of 24 ft and a height of 13 ft.
  • Their weights can go up to 6.1 tons. African bush elephants are found in wide distribution in almost all African countries.
  • The African bush elephant commonly inhabits open savannah, desert areas, and high rain forest.

What Do African Forest Elephants Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Proboscidea Elephantidae Loxodonta Loxodonta cyclotis

What do African forest elephants eat?

African Forest Elephants are herbivorous, consuming a diet that constitutes of fruits, tree bark, and leaves. These elephants also crave salt and will thus be found licking soil to provide them with the necessary minerals which may be absent from their diets.

  • This species was previously considered to be a sub-species of the African bush elephant.
  • Its scientific name was thus written as Loxodonta africana cyclotis.
  • It was until recently when DNA results revealed that the two species diverged from one ancestor, millions of years ago.
  • The African forest elephant then became considered as the newest elephant species.
  • The African forest elephants are smaller compared to the African savannah elephants.
  • Another difference between the 2 species is the fact that the tusks of the African forest elephants are straight, and they tend to point downwards when compared to the curved tusks of their savannah counterparts.
  • African forest elephants mostly inhabit tropical forests.

What Do Asian Elephants Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Proboscidea Elephantidae Elephas Elephas maximus

What do Asian elephants eat?

Asian elephants are also herbivores. They mostly feed on grass and a wide variety of plant species including palms and different legumes.

  • The Asian elephant is endemic to Asia, particularly in Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Thailand.
  • This species is slightly smaller compared to its African relatives, and they also have short, rounded ears.
  • The Asiatic elephant is considered to be an endangered species given that its population has reduced by half over the last 75 years.
  • The members of this species are found in wide distribution in rainforests, terrestrial lands, grassland, and shrubland.

How Do Elephants Hunt?

Elephants are herbivores, meaning they obtain all of their nutrients from feeding on vegetation. As such, they do not hunt.

When Do Elephants Eat?

Elephants are both diurnal and nocturnal land mammals.

When do elephants eat?

  • Those living next to human settlements tend to be nocturnal because this is the time human activity is reduced.
  • These organisms also have long eating hours, and this explains their diurnal and nocturnal activity.
  • As such, elephants will be found foraging for food either during daylight hours or during nightfall.

How Often Do Elephants Eat?

How often do elephants eat?

Given their enormous size, elephants consume between 200 and 600 pounds of food a day, and they spend anything between 12 and 18 hours out of 24 hours, feeding. The implication of this is that these large mammals will tend to feed as often as they can to realize their daily threshold.

What Eats Elephants?

Because of their large size, adult elephants have almost nil predators.

  • Humans are the biggest threats to elephants.
  • They hunt them for the illegal trade of ivory.
  • Elephant calves that stray from the herd, especially at night, may fall prey (though not easy) to organisms like hyenas, lions, wild dogs, and the Nile crocodiles.

Where Do Elephants fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Elephants play an instrumental role in the animal food chain.

  • Elephant calves, the sick, and old members are potential prey to large predators like lions.
  • In this role, elephants provide a perfect source of nutrition.
  • Elephants support the thriving of birdlife by engaging in a symbiotic relationship with some bird species such as drongos and oxpeckers.

In general, the continued existence of elephants in the animal food chain promotes the thriving of different organisms, considering the presence of various dynamic relationships.

Cite this article as: "What Do Elephants Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, July 9, 2018, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-elephants-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “About Elephants | Elephant Conservation & Protection”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Loxodonta africana: INFORMATION”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “African Forest Elephant | African Wildlife Foundation”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “African Elephant Really Two Wildly Different Species”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “Asian Elephants”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “Asian Elephant | National Geographic”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.
  • “Learning about Elephants – The National Elephant Center”. Accessed October 08, 2019. Link.

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