Elephants Explained: How Much Does An Elephant Weigh? | Kidadl


Elephants Explained: How Much Does An Elephant Weigh?

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Elephants are ancient and unique-looking animals that have evolved for thousands of years.

Elephants are considered to be the largest existing animals out of all the land animals. Elephants are animals that greatly affect the environment of the Earth and are thus called a 'keystone species'.

Elephants belong to the family of Elephantidae. These animals are mammals and are herbivorous in nature. This means that elephants depend on the vegetation or greenery around them in the wild to survive. The body of an elephant plays a key role in the continued survival of this animal. Each subspecies of elephant has slight differences that help to distinguish them. However, they all have a similar build overall.

They have broad shoulders with big flapping ears and sturdy legs. Elephants also have a distinct long nose called a trunk, which not only helps them to breathe but it also acts as an appendage that aids in carrying food items to the mouth of the elephant. The trunk of an elephant can lift heavy weights and also ward off a predator or an obstacle. Producing sounds for communication with other elephants in the wild is another function of the trunk.

The trunk is actually an extension of the noses and upper lips of elephants. An elephant's trunk is a highly flexible appendage that can contract, extend, and move in various directions. Another unique feature of this animal is its tusks. The tusks are actually teeth, but they are not the same as the ones that elephants use to eat their food with.

The ears of this animal also play a vital role. They are about one-sixth of the size of their bodies, and one of the primary roles of these ears is to act as a cooling mechanism. The tiny blood vessels in the ears are only covered by a thin layer of skin, and when warm blood flows through these blood vessels, it cools down through contact with the outside air separated only by a thin layer of skin. The blood, which has now become cooler, flows back to the rest of the body of the elephant. It thus helps to reduce the overall temperature of the body. They have a keen sense of sound as their ears funnel sound waves from the surrounding environment in the wild.

Currently, there are three subspecies of elephants alive: the African bush elephant, African forest elephant, and Asian elephant. Other species, including the ancestors of elephants known as mammoths, have gone extinct. These animals can be found in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. They live in different habitats, which include forests, deserts, marshes, and savannahs. The society of elephants is called a fission-fusion society, where different family groups come together for the purpose of socialization.

A female elephant is called a cow, whereas a male elephant is called a bull. A baby elephant is called a calf. Furthermore, a group of elephants is known as a herd. Mostly, elephants have a matriarchal rule in place. This is because once a male elephant hits puberty and becomes an adult, it leaves the herd to journey alone or joins another herd of only males. Male elephants only approach a herd of females when they are looking for a mate. A herd of females will probably have a female head with her baby or more females along with their offspring. The average life expectancy of an elephant is around 65 years or more.

Asian Vs. African Elephant In Terms Of Weight

African and Asian elephants are the only species of elephants that exist on the planet presently. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), African bush elephants and Asian elephants are classified under the category of endangered, while African forest elephants as listed as critically endangered. With all their similarities and differences, these species of elephants are quite large and intimidating.

The broad category of African elephants includes both African bush elephants and African forest elephants. The scientific name given to African elephants is Loxodonta. The African bush elephant is called Loxodonta Africana, while the African forest elephant is called Loxodonta cyclotis. African elephants, as the name suggests, are found in several parts of Africa. While the former, also known as the savanna elephant, is found in sub-Saharan Africa, the latter species is found in Central and West African forests. African bush elephants are slightly larger than the other species of African elephants.

African elephants have a distinct difference from Asian elephants. According to National Geographic, the difference is that the ears of African elephants are larger with a shape that resembles the continent of Africa. On the other hand, the ears of Asian elephants are smaller and more rounded. Furthermore, there is also a slight difference in the appearance of their length. The average life expectancy of African elephants in the wild is around 70 years. The height of African elephants to the shoulder is around 3.2 m (10.49 ft). Thus, even a tall human would look small in front of an average African elephant.

While the African elephant is found in Africa, the Asian elephant is found in the continent of Asia. Asian elephants have smoother skin than African elephants. Moreover, Asian elephants have a curved back along with long tusks. Yet another distinction between the two different species of elephants is their weight.

It is already known that African elephants are bigger in size than Asian elephants. An adult male African elephant weighs about 12,000 lbs (5,443.1 kg), while the female African elephant weighs around 7,200 lbs (3,265.86 kg) or more. Meanwhile, the weight of male elephants of the Asian elephant species is around 8,000-10,000 lbs (3,628-4,535 kg) and female Asian elephants weigh around 4,000-7,000 lbs (1,814-3,175 kg).

What does an elephant's weight compare to?

As mentioned earlier, elephants are the largest existing terrestrial animals on Earth. But are they the largest of all creatures on this planet, or are there some other animals that can be bigger or weigh more than elephants? The answer to this question is explored below.

There is one animal on Earth that is even bigger than an elephant. This creature is the blue whale, which lives in the ocean. It is thought that a single blue whale can weigh the equivalent of 30 elephants. Their size and weight are so large because of the buoyancy and vast living space provided by the ocean. Meanwhile, like many other terrestrial animals, elephants and their size, including their weight, are somewhat restricted by the gravitational pull of the Earth.

In conclusion, you can say that while elephants are definitely bigger and weigh more than a lion or a tiger, they are still smaller than blue whales.

Herd of African Elephants walking.

How much does a newborn elephant weigh?

The elephant is the only living land mammal with the longest gestation period. Unlike human females who give birth after nine months, female elephants give birth to their young after 22 months of gestation. A female elephant can give birth to just one baby elephant at a time. However, even young elephants who are just born aren't small in comparison to other animals and their offspring.

Young elephants are very vulnerable in the first year of their life. The mortality rate of newborn elephants has increased by more than 30%. Right after they are born and during the early months of calves, their trunks do not have as many muscles like those of an adult, along with minimal coordination. Baby elephants eat by suckling through their mouths. Moreover, while some might face a bit of a problem standing on their own legs at first, it has been observed that the calves of Asian elephants stand on their legs soon after their birth.

The weight range of an elephant calf after birth is around 200-300 lb (90-136 kg). For the first few years, the mother elephant supervises the calf's activity. Then at four years old, the calf starts being independent, and by the age of 18-24 years, the calf becomes an adult and reaches the large size of an adult elephant.

How much does an elephant tusk weigh?

An elephant's tusks are made of bone tissue that surrounds enamel. This bone tissue is cream-colored and known as ivory. The tusks are considered to be an evolution of the incisor teeth that grow continuously over the whole lifespan of these animals. Although the tusk is considered to be a tooth, it does not perform the same function.

The elephant's teeth that are used to chew the food are inside the mouth of the animal. The tusk, on the other hand performs various other functions such as aiding in digging, collecting food items, stripping bark from a tree, and lifting objects. Another important function of the tusks is to provide protection to an elephant's trunk, which is another important part of an elephant's body. In order to perform these tasks, an elephant's tusks have to be strong enough.

Asian elephants have smaller tusks compared to those of the African elephant. Moreover, the tusks of a female elephant are smaller than those of males. The weight of an adult male elephant's tusk is around 110-175 lbs (49-79 kg), while the weight range of an adult female elephant's tusk is about 40-44 lbs (18-19 kg).

Beyond the purposes of the tusks of the elephants discussed above, there is another purpose of this appendage that actually serves humans. The tusk is made up of ivory, which is very valuable in the human world. Poaching elephants for their tusks is quite popular as the ivory retrieved can be sold at great prices on the black market. This poaching is also one of the reasons for the endangerment of these animals. Although conservation communities all over the world have tried to curb this illegal activity and save the elephants, it is still practiced.

Did You Know...

The tall stature and bodyweight of elephants are intimidating to other predatory animals. A cool fact about the body of this animal is that an elephant's trunk is quite helpful when it comes to lifting heavy objects. In ancient times, in many Asian countries, elephants were used as war animals and were also made to work in circuses and other places that needed heavy object lifting every day. In the circus, you might have seen elephants lifting humans or humans performing stunts while standing on an elephant.

Another cool fact about them is that, according to National Geographic, elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror. Furthermore, the National Geographic also points out that herd members of elephants are able to show signs of grief when one of them dies, and they sometimes visit the bones of dead ones for years in the wild and touch them with their trunks. This proves that elephants are able to show emotions and concern for others.

Moreover, even the brain of an elephant is heavier and has more neurons than those of humans. Researchers have found that the elephant's brain is complex and capable of showing various levels of intelligence. Interestingly, an African elephant can eat more than 300 lb (136.07 kg) of food in a single day.

Unfortunately, though, very few of these animals exist right now. Their numbers have dwindled over the years, and they are considered to be an endangered category of animals according to the IUCN. The reasons behind this decrease in number are the ivory trade, human-wildlife discord, and loss of natural habitat.

<p>Shafaque has a Bachelor's degree in English language and Literature from Sophia Girls' College with a Master's degree in Library and Information Sciences from Shreemati Nasthibai Damodar Thackersey Women's College. She has a strong command of written and verbal English, along with proficiency in Hindi, French, Urdu, and Korean. With extensive knowledge of English literature and creative writing, Shafaque has completed numerous creative writing courses online and has previously worked as a content writer at Scripto.</p>

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