Elephants are the largest land animals of the mammal class.
They are herbivorous animals that eat only plants and tend to specialize in both grasses and leaves and tree branches, whose proportions in the diet depend on the season and habitat.
These animals feed for 12-18 hours each day (that’s about three-quarters of their lives!). A large African species can eat up to 300 pounds of food a day! Because their diet is high in cellulose, only about 44% of the food they consume is digested.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants eat huge amounts of food – the African species consume up to 300 kilos in one day. The Indian species eat less, at around 150 kg. The African elephant can weigh about 6 tons, and it is the largest land animal. That kind of weight requires a lot of vegetation, so these large animals spend most of their time either searching for food or eating it. They eat a variety of vegetation, which makes it easier for them to find food and eat plants of almost any size, from grass to trees.
They also require plenty of fluids. African elephants can drink up to 190 liters of water in one day, so they never graze far from water in the wild.
Most feeding is done with their powerful but incredibly flexible trunk. With their proboscis, they can pluck grass from the ground, pluck leaves from trees high in the air, break large branches, and bring it all delicately to their mouths.
As you might expect, eating so much food affects their teeth. Over time, this action wears away the tooth enamel. But unlike most other animals, this is not a problem for them. Throughout their lives, elephants grow new teeth to replace the old, worn-out ones.
What elephants eat at the zoo?
In captivity, hay is the basis of their diet daily. They are also given:
There was even a recorded case of an elephant eating spruce branches in a U.S. zoo.
In captivity, these animals eat much less than the numbers mentioned above. For example, according to the website of the National Zoo in Washington, the Indian species only eats about 60 pounds of hay, five pounds of fruits and vegetables, and a few leafy branches.
What do elephants eat in the wild?
Elephants eat more than 300 different types of plants in the wild. These can be:
- root crops;
Although these animals are herbivores by nature and their digestive systems are not adapted to digest meat, there was a case where an Indian elephant ate a human as an act of revenge after her baby elephant was killed. The elephant was shot and a piece of human meat was found in her mouth.
These animals are also very fond of eating human crops, making nightly raids on the fields of farmers and farmers. African elephants pounce on cornfields in East Africa. The Asian species prefer fields of millet.
The Indian elephant loves sugarcane and other crops so much that it has become an agricultural pest, attacking and destroying orchards and rice fields. As humans continue to develop more and more land that was once home to these animals, conflicts between farmers and elephants are bound to increase.
Many kinds of experimental crop deterrents are being developed to protect crops. One effective method, called “Elephants and Bees,” involves building a fence of beehives, since these giants are very afraid of bees!
What do African elephants eat?
Currently, all African elephants are classified as one species, although it is believed that they are divided into savanna and forest species.
Studies have shown that savannah elephants prefer to eat grass at the beginning of the rainy season (around October to March) and then rely more on woody plants (from April to September).
Forest elephants occupy a relatively small range in the Congo rainforest of Africa, but their diet still varies depending on which part of central Africa they live in. In the Cameroon reserve, for the most part, these animals ate grass, but because they live in the forests, the fruit is an important part of their diet.
What do Asian elephants eat?
The Asian elephant is an endangered species. Only about 40,000-50,000 remain in the wild. Widespread in southern Asia, they now exist only in five South Asian countries:
- Sri Lanka.
And eight countries in Southeast Asia:
- Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
- Thailand and Vietnam.
Like African species, Asian elephants are herbivorous animals that eat only plants. Because the ranges vary greatly, Asian species eat a wide variety of plants. For example, in South India, one study found that native species ate more than 112 different types of plants, but most of their diet consisted of 25 types of legumes, palms, sedges, and grasses. Animals living in the rainforests of Thailand tend to eat more fruit, and they play an important role in seed dispersal.