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What is the largest land animal in the world? If you guess the elephant, you are right! In this lesson, we will learn about elephants that live in Asian countries like India, Thailand, Cambodia, and southern China. Let’s find out some interesting facts about the strong and intelligent Asian Elephant.

Asian Elephants

Two main kinds of elephants live in the world: the African elephant and the Asian elephant.

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The Asian elephant lives in Asian countries within tropical forests and grasslands. People use this strong, smart elephant to move heavy objects like fallen trees, ride on their backs to get places, and honor the Asian elephant as an important part of their culture and religions.

Flapping Ears, Useful Trunks, and Strong Tusks

You can spot the two kinds of elephants by their ears. The Asian elephant’s ears are smaller and rounder than the larger, pointed ears of its African cousin. These ears serve a big purpose by flapping back and forth to keep the elephant cooler.Have you ever wondered why an elephant has a long trunk instead of a nose like yours? Well, this trunk is extremely useful to the Asian elephant because it can do many things! Of course it is for smelling and breathing, but the trunk is also for drinking, trumpeting, grabbing, tearing down tree limbs, moving things, greeting other elephants, and taking showers and dust baths. The trunk can even pick up something as tiny as a blade of grass! But how?Take a look at your hand.

You have fingers that help you grab things. Did you know the Asian elephant has a ‘finger’ too? It’s at the end of its trunk.

The Asian elephant trunk has many uses!
trunk

Male Asian elephants also sometimes have tusks, which are long, ivory ‘teeth’ coming from outside of their mouths.

They use tusks for digging for roots and water, taking bark off trees, and fighting. For being such a big animal, the Asian elephant can actually walk silently because of its wide, padded feet.

More Veggies, Please

The Asian elephant is an herbivore because it only eats plants.

So how much does an Asian elephant eat each day? About 300 pounds! Understandably, the Asian elephant spends most of its day about 12-18 hours roaming around for food. It’s a good thing that it also doesn’t need much sleep.The Asian elephant gets all the nutrition it needs from roots, herbs, grass, bananas and other fruits, rice, sugarcane, and bark. It drinks plenty of water, too, always living near a water source.

Family Herds and Baby Elephants

Female elephants live in herds, or groups of related elephants, with their male and female young. Usually the oldest or biggest female is in charge of the herd. She is called the matriarch. Males live alone or in small groups after they become teenagers.

Asian elephant skin is gray and brown with some pink on its ears, trunk, forehead, and chest.

herd

It takes almost two years (22 months actually), for a baby elephant to grow inside its mother before being born. When born, it is already three feet tall and weighs as much as a grown man, over 200 pounds. While this might seem big, when you think that a grown elephant is about 6-9 feet tall and over 2.5 tons, that’s pretty small.

Like human babies, baby elephants drink milk from their moms, and their mothers take care of them until they are ready to be on their own at about age 13. Mother elephants give birth to one baby every 2-4 years, and Asian elephants live as long as 60 years.

Lesson Summary

Asian elephants have rounded ears, very strong and useful trunks that have a finger-like part at the end, quiet padded feet, and sometimes tusks. They are herbivores. Females and young live in herds led by a matriarch, while teenage and adult males live alone or in small groups.

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