As the largest land animals alive, you’d probably expect elephants to eat a lot. And you’d be right; the number of calories one elephant can eat in a day could sustain a person for months, no jokes.
So what do elephants eat to grow into such huge animals? If you’re interested in finding out more about what elephants fill their humungous bellies with you’re in the right place. Read on for the definitive guide to what elephants eat.
Elephants are herbivores
Elephants are what’s known as herbivorous animals. Know what this means? Let’s double-check:
The word herbivore comes from the Latin word herbivora. In Latin, herba means “a small plant or herb” and vora means “to eat”. So herbivores are animals that eat only vegetables and/or vegetation.
Elephants feed entirely on naturally growing plants and shrubs.
Whatsoever, elephants adapted themselves to live on the green leaves nature grows on her kind breast and drinks from her eyes, to be specific from nearby water bodies. For choosing such a vegetarian diet the internal environment of their body and their outer eating parts started to transform. Now, an elephant has flat teeth to grind the leaves and tusks to rip the bark off from a tree.
Do you know the teeth of elephants are continually replaced from time to time? That’s why they are called polyphyodont. Elephants are mammals but don’t grow teeth just like us. We grow baby teeth and then replace them with permanent adult teeth.
Now, quickly get the details of an elephant’s daily diet. It is going to be too heavy. If you own a pair of glasses, clean it with ease.
Elephants eat too much!
Elephants can eat an average of 150-160 kg of food in a day! Yes, in a single day. Do you know how much water they drink? An elephant drinks an average of 40-45 liters of water in just a single day. Yeah! They can drink gallons of water.
The amount of food they eat depends on various factors, like the environment of their habitat, food availability, and other biological needs. In hot areas, an elephant drinks more water than an elephant living in a reasonably average temperate region. In some places, elephants have to struggle in search of water. In those cases, they drink a huge amount of water to compensate for the loss of water from their body.
Here’s an interesting fact for you. Do you know elephants take a long arduous journey in search of food and water? They walk 10-20 km a day daily to find sufficient amounts of food and water for the whole family.
In the Etosha region of Namibia, it is recorded that elephants living there move as far as 90-180 km per day in search of just some food! They are the real fighters of the animal planet. When they get hungry, they stick together while moving such long distances to find food. After finding it, they enjoy it together. It’s a lesson for us.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants are herbivorous animals. They eat leaves, twigs, bark, roots, fruit, flowers… everything. They even try to eat up the soul of a tree! But, it’s not possible. If anything is green nearby, they tend to latch onto it. There is no looking right or left. To sustain such a gigantic figure, they have to eat that much. A twig of a tree is just a single spoon of dessert on their plate!
Apart from that, they drink water from nearby ponds or rivers. They drink a lot of water to get them hydrated all the time. In some regions, they use water to control their body temperature.
Elephants living in different regions of the planet eat different things. But the main diet remains the same. They are die-hard vegetarians!
Let’s know about what African and Asian elephants eat.
What do African elephants eat?
African elephants mainly live on forest trees. In Africa, it is hard for them to find long grasslands. The abundance of different kinds of trees and bushes help them to sustain themselves in the climate of Africa. An adult African elephant can eat a whole tree. In the case of kids, they feed on twigs and leaves. They also eat roots, tree bark, and fruits.
African elephants are called “browsers” for their food habit. They browse from one tree to another for leaves, roots, barks, and twigs.
Planning for your next safari? You can read about Addo Elephant Park, South Africa here.
What do Asian elephants eat?
Asian elephants live on grasslands. They eat every kind of grass available in Asia. Sometimes they prefer to eat short woody plants and trees. In dry regions of Asia, elephants also eat thorny bushes. Apart from that Asian elephants eat leaves, twigs, fruit, bark, grass, and roots just like African elephants.
Asian elephants are called “grazers” as they graze on grasslands and feed mainly on the vegetation close to the ground.
What do elephants eat in the Savanna?
In Savanna, elephants eat weeds like Rubber Vine, Mesquite, Prickly Pear, etc. They also eat different parts of the trees available in the Savanna region. Trees like Acacia and Bushwillow are also preferred by elephants.
Here’s an interesting fact for you. Do you know baby elephants eat their mother’s dung to digest their food?
Why do elephants eat that much?
Elephants are not tiny animals that they can eat a leaf and sleep all day long. The huge body of an elephant needs an analogous amount of food. Otherwise, they cannot survive. However, the nature-mother has provided for all of us. Then why should they eat less?
Elephants eat an average of 150 kg of food and 40 liters of water per day, for the following reasons:
- They need a lot of energy to sustain themselves.
- They generally cover long distances per day. Moving 15-30 km with such a heavy body needs sufficient food for their survival.
- In dry regions, natural water is scarce. Elephants living there drink a lot of water to keep them hydrated and to store enough water in their body for their next trip.
The most important reason, you shouldn’t miss!!!
Here’s the main reason for an elephant eating that much. The majority of the food an elephant eats goes undigested. Without digestion, their body is always in an energy-crisis. That’s why they eat a huge quantity of food to make up that loss. However, the digestion process lasts up to a day. There is no way out. They have to wait for a long day before refilling their belly again.
Here’s another important fact before parting. Do you know an elephant sleeps 3-4 hours a day? They take a nap just like us, at night under the starry sky of Africa or in the jungles of Asia.
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Frequently asked questions about “what do elephants eat”
What do elephants eat list?
Elephants generally eat:
- Tree bark
- Shrubs etc.
To know more about what elephants eat, read our article on “what do elephants eat?”
Do elephants eat meat?
Do elephants eat bananas?
Yes, elephants are herbivores. They eat bananas. But, you can’t satisfy an elephant with a banana. They can eat a bunch of it easily.
What do elephants eat in the zoo?
Elephants are given a definite diet per day. They are fed according to their body-mass index and biological functioning. Even they keep a keen watch on their activities to chart a perfect amount of food for each member of the group. In a zoo, elephants generally eat different fruits, hay, pellets, and vegetables. They also browse through shrubs and trees available in the zoo.
You can read more about “what do elephants eat” here.
And that’s your lot for the elephant’s diet. Did any of these facts on what elephants eat surprise you, or any relevant facts you think we should add? Please do join in using the comments section below!