What Do Elephants Eat ?
Though one might have heard of wild elephants chasing tigers, but it is only for security purposes and not for a meal. The elephants are herbivorous and almost fifty percent of their nourishment comprises of grass – one of their favorite foods. Elephants also feed on barks, seeds, fruits, roots, branches and leaves. One of their most preferred tree types is acacia. Surprisingly, the elephants lack good digestive abilities and therefore almost sixty percent of the food they consume is released out of the body in an undigested form.
Any elephant irrespective of whether they are wild or domestic feed on only vegetarian diet. These animals are browsers and grazers and do not hesitate in surviving on a varied type of diet. They consume anything from grass to small plants to trees as per the season and the availability of nutritious food. Baby elephants are breastfed exclusively till six months. After six months of age they intake some solid food and continue breast feeding on the mother for as long as eight years or till another sibling is born.
Elephants in captivity can survive on cabbage, sugarcane, lettuce, banana, apples and other vegetables or fruits. However, herbivore pellets, fodder from acacia leaf and hay form the mainstay diet of the captive elephant.
All elephants have a huge appetite and so it is natural that though elephants are found in various kinds of habitat from swamps, forests, deserts and savannah, the key determining factor of the elephant’s habitat is adequate supply of nutrition and water. The African elephant is known to be the biggest terrestrial animal weighing almost six thousand three hundred and fifty kilos and an adult elephant can polish off an unbelievable quantity of around two hundred and seventy kilos of vegetation per day. Even the newborn calves can drink ten to fifteen liters of milk daily. The males usually out-feed the females.
The elephant definitely requires gallons of water to wash down such mammoth meals. On an average about two hundred and fifty four liters of water is consumed by the elephant on an everyday basis. You will be surprised to know that one-third of this quantity of water is often consumed in one sitting.
The elephant’s trunk serves as a disposition for grazing and for browsing. The Asian elephant has a trunk that is flattened at its tip while the African elephant’s trunk is 2-pronged helping the elephant to pick up small objects with it. The elephant uses its enormous back teeth to grind the food they intake. Over a period of time, these teeth wear out. However, this is not an issue as the elephant grows new teeth lifelong. The new teeth pushes forward from behind the elephant’s mouth and replace the worn out ones.
Elephants spend close to sixteen hours every day foraging for food to satisfy their hunger. The remaining time is spent on community activities with only four to five hours of sleep in between. The physical attributes of an elephant especially the tusks, legs, feet and, of course, the trunk is therefore well-suited for the vegetarian lifestyle.
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Buzzle: What Do Elephants Eat?