There are two primary species of elephant:
- Asian Elephant
- African Elephant
There are numerous subspecies of the Asian elephant, these are the Indian Elephant, Sri Lankan Elephant, Sumatran, Borneo Elephant.
African elephants are larger than Asian elephants and have two subspecies which are the African Bush Elephant and African Forest Elephant.
The elephant is the only known mammal that, despite having knee joints, cannot jump! This is thought to be primarily due to the elephants sheer size but also because of the way that the elephants legs are built, they are short and stocky to support the elephants phenomenal weight.
Elephants are herbivores that spend around 22 hours eating! The elephant searches for green leaves in the tree tops but it is not uncommon for the elephant to tear down the tree to get the leaves.
One old elephant related myth is that elephants are afraid of mice. There are a number of theories from where this arose such as the size difference (elephants are one of the biggest land animals, mice are one of the smallest), the fear from the elephant that a mouse could crawl into the elephants trunk and nest, and the fact that mice have been known to crawl over elephants while they are sleeping so they can get to any left over food, are also viable possibilities. Whether or not elephants are actually scared of mice is unknown, however tests show that elephants are definitely not as comfortable with mice around as you might expect.
Elephant Foot Facts
- The foot of an elephant has five toes that are buried in the flesh of their feet, with not all the toes of an elephant having toenails.
- The foot of an elephant is formed in such a way that when elephants walk, they are effectively walking on tip toe.
- The underneath of elephants feet is made up of tough and fatty tissue that acts a shock absorber so that elephants can walk more quietly.
- The elephant uses its enormous feet in which to collect small amounts of water and to dig up roots out of the tought ground.
- The foot of an elephant is about half the width of its shoulder, so scientists are able to tell the size of the elephant by looking at the footprint.
Elephant Teeth Facts
- Elephants have 26 teeth in total which includes 24 molars in the mouth of the elephant and the elephants tusks which are actually two incisors.
- The molars in the mouth of the elephant replace themselves six times during their lives with the new molars being larger than the old ones.
- The replacing molars in the mouth of the elephant push the old molars forward to let the new molars grow at the back of the elephants mouth.
- The elephants uses its tusks for digging, ripping bark from trees and foraging, as their tusks are essentially no different from normal teeth.
- The teeth of the elephant are made from ivory, a strong compound that humans seem to have lust for but it has meant that countless elephants have been killed for their teeth alone.