How Long Are Elephants Pregnant For? Fun Facts For Animal Lovers

Deepthi Reddy
Jun 14, 2024 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
Fact-checked by Nishtha Dixit
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African Elephant running

Today, we are going to learn something interesting about one of the largest land animals.

Yes, we are talking about elephants. We will discover more about the three species of elephants known living on Earth.

Do you know where we can find these enchanting animals? We can find them in the Savannahs, marshes, forests, and deserts in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. They are herbivorous and prefer to stay near water sources for survival.

It is unfortunate, but important to note that these surviving elephant species are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The African bush elephant and Asian elephant are Endangered, and the African forest elephant is Critically Endangered.

We have curated more fun facts for you right ahead! Read on and also discover some interesting facts on how long are goats pregnant? And Sumatran Elephant Facts on our Kidadl page. 

Different Elephant Species And Their Pregnancy Lengths

Did you ever think about how a female elephant brings a young one into the world? How long do they carry the baby or the young one in their womb? Well, an elephant pregnancy has quite a mind-boggling duration.

Elephants claim to have the longest gestation period amongst all mammals and the gestation period lasts for up to two years. Which is significantly longer than that of a human.

Yes, you heard that right. It is not the typical nine-month gestation period that we’re used to with humans. Hats off to these momma elephants for enduring pregnancy for such a long time!

The three species of Elephants surviving the test of time in this world are the African elephants, namely the African bush elephant and African forest elephant, also the Asian elephants. Each of these species has a different length of pregnancy or gestation period.

The gestation period for an Asian elephant will be anywhere between 18-22 months.

The African elephants have a gestation period that may be as long as 22 months. Now you know that the longest gestation period of an elephant makes elephant pregnancy one of the most unique gestation periods in the animal kingdom.

How many babies can an elephant have at once?

So now that we’ve learned some facts on elephant pregnancies and the long gestation period associated with elephants, we may be curious to know how many babies do these elephants have at once? Read on to discover more about these magnanimous elephants.

The mothers or female elephants give birth to one calf in a single pregnancy, and in rare cases, twins may be born in a single pregnancy to these mothers. Twins, interestingly, are more common in wild African elephants.

The time between two births maybe 4-5 years. The inter-pregnancy periods between two births are also quite long amongst these mammals. Though the average lifespan of these animals is anywhere from 60-70 years, the birth of a young one or offspring amounts to four offspring in a lifetime.

How big is a baby elephant when it's born?

Elephant in natural habitat in South Africa.

This long gestation helps these baby animals have full brain development. But how big are these baby elephants when they finally arrive in the world? Let's find out now.

The elephant's offspring or the calf, at birth, can stand 3 ft (91.4 cm) tall and, after being born after 22 months of gestation, can weigh about 268 lbs (121.5 kg).

Many biologists have struggled to try and carry research on the subject of elephant pregnancies for months and months; but the research findings prove that elephant pregnancies are difficult to study among all other animals. Did you know that the baby elephants are delivered by the mother elephant in a standing position?

The mother and the baby are protected by the herd in the wild range in the forests.

When are elephant babies born?

Elephant pregnancies are different, as we’ve learned. So do these elephants have any time of preference to give birth to young ones? Let us find out now.

Elephants can normally give birth to young ones at any time of the year as long as there is no scarcity of food. In case there is a dry spell of a season, the elephant births will happen in the wet season or the rainy season.

The rainy season is apt for the elephant's birth cycle as it ensures the mother elephant is well fed and can provide for the suckling calf too.

What is a baby elephant called?

Do baby elephants have any endearing names to be called on? Let us understand more about this.

The baby elephant is called a calf, and the parents would be called a bull and a cow. It is fascinating to note here that though these animals do not have any similarity to the cattle, despite sharing the same names, even the name of a group of elephants.

A group of elephants would be called a herd. Have you ever heard of such a herd anywhere?

It's very endearing to learn that at birth, the baby calf and the mother are protected by the herd of elephants. The young one of an elephant is precocial at birth.

Although it may need some support from the mother in terms of support to stand, they can handle many activities right from the time of the birth. Alloparenting is another distinct feature in this animal species.

The other members of the group fend for the baby when it needs protection from predators or other elements of nature. These mothers who are not the biological mothers are referred to as allomothers, and they are of the age group between two and 12 years old.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long are elephants pregnant? Then why not take a look at African elephant vs. Asian elephant, or how long do dolphins live?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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Fact-checked by Nishtha Dixit

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

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Nishtha DixitBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Nishtha is an experienced SEO writer and editor, with a passion for writing and self-expression. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate major in Literature and Communication and a minor in Political Science from the University of Delhi. Nishtha has completed a certificate master course in English from the British Council and has been appointed as the editor for the bi-monthly magazine of the University of Delhi.

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