What Do Elephants Eat ?
Elephants are magnificent beings, one of the largest land dwelling animals today. They are very intelligent and gentle giants with really large brains and the longest gestational period among all land animals averaging about 21.5 months, which is almost two years!
These really long pregnancies help keep their population under control.
Broadly classified, there are two type of elephants found around the globe these days; African elephants and Asian Elephants.
The African elephants are slightly larger in size than Asian ones and can grow to a height of almost 13 feet. The average height among Asian elephants is 9 feet but they can still grow upto 12 feet.
Considering the humongous size of these beasts, it should come as no surprise that they weigh around 20,000 pounds!
Can you imagine the amount of food that’d be required to sustain these enormous creatures?
THE DIET OF AN ELEPHANT
Elephants are strictly herbivorous animals and solely depend on greens for their bodily nourishment. An elephant needs to eat around 4% to 7% of itsbody weight on daily basis to keep itself up and functioning, so approximately elephants spend around 12 to 18 hours of their day either eating or in search of food to eat.
The awful amounts of food they consume obviously then needs to be digested, which isn’t as arduous an effort as it sounds, because contrary to the lazy and lethargic picture our minds might paint of such a gigantic creature, elephants are quite nimble-footed beings and can walk up to 195 km per day.
However,the final fate of all that digested food is eventually piles of dung that amount to almost 150kg, daily!
Elephants like to eat small plants, grass, tree barks and fruits. Elephants love to eat bananas and sugar cane. In areas like India and Africa where farmer farm in the jungle, the threat of elephants destroying farms for sugar cane is a very real threat.
In addition to sugarcanes and bananas, one of the favorite foods for elephants is tree bark. Tree barks contain calcium that helps in the digestion of food for the elephants. As elephants consume such a large amount of food every day, it is ideal for them to eat something that boosts their digestion.
FAVORITE FOOD OF AN ELEPHANT
The strictly vegetarian diet of elephants allows them to live up to approximate ages of 70 years. An adult elephant can eat up to 150 to 170 Kg of food each day which includes either grass grazing or eating herbs, plants, trees, tree foliage, fruits, barks, twigs, bushes, roots or vegetables.
Tree bark is one their most favorite food item to chew at. It is also a good source of calcium and roughage for them, and aids with digestion. They use their tusks, which are also considered the incisor teeth of elephants, to tear off bark strips out the tree trunks.
These tusks are also a great tool for them to obtain water from dry riverbeds for drinking. They use their feet and tusks to dig water holes into dry riverbeds and with the help of their trunk, which sucks up water from these holes, they pour water into mouths and hydrate themselves.
WATER INTAKE OF AN ELEPHANT
The daily water requirement of elephants parallels their food needs. While we humans struggle to remember to drink 8 glasses of water daily, elephants need to drink around 25 gallons of water every day.
An interesting fact to highlight here is the astonishing speed at which an adult elephant can consume water, which is almost 55 gallons in less than 5 minutes!