The elephant is Earth’s largest land animal, although the Asian elephant is slightly smaller than its African cousin. Asian elephants can be identified by their smaller, rounded ears. (An African elephant’s ears resemble the continent of Africa.). They live in forested regions of India and throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. About a third of Asian elephants live in captivity.
The Asian elephant is classified as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population has declined by an estimated 50 percent over the past 75 years, and there are an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild.
- Top-Notch Trunk – An elephant’s trunk is an incredible appendage. Biologically, it is a combination of the animal’s nose and upper lip. It contains 60,000 muscles!
- Water Hose – Elephants use their trunks to suck up water, but they don’t drink through it like a straw. Instead, they fill it with water, then twist it under them to spray the water in their mouths. They can hold up to two gallons in their trunk at one time!
- Tusk Tools – Those tusks aren’t just for show! Males use their tusks to fend off attackers, dig in the ground, and even knock down trees.
- Female Tusks – Though most females do not have tusks, a small percentage do. In those females with tusks, they are known as “tushes”! Most tushes are incredibly short, and sometimes only visible when the female opens her mouth.
This species is most active during dawn and dusk, which makes them “crepuscular.” They are quite social, and live in groups known as herds.
Herds contain several females and their offspring, and males leave the group when they reach sexual maturity. Groups of males form bachelor herds together. Some adult males live solitary lives and only interact with others while breeding.
They are polygynous, meaning that a male can mate with multiple females. Before mating, males conduct fights to reveal the dominant male (the one that will mate the group of females). Asian elephants mate all-year-round, without reference to a season of the year. Under favorable conditions, a female can give birth once every 3-4 years. The gestation period lasts quite long, 18-22 months, after which a single baby is born. The baby feeds on the breast milk of its mother as well as other lactating females if necessary. A few months later young add grass to its daily diet meanwhile continuing to eat breast milk for up to 1.5 years. Even after weaning, the mother keeps on caring for and protecting the young. Sexual maturity is reached at the age of around 14 years. However, it’s not so easy for males: they are allowed to mate only when they are able to dominate other males in the area.
Elephants are matriarchal, meaning they live in female-led groups. The matriarch is usually the biggest and oldest. She presides over a multi-generational herd that includes other females, called cows, and their young. Adult males, called bulls, tend to roam on their own, sometimes forming smaller, more loosely associated all-male groups.
Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment. Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal—almost 22 months. Cows usually give birth to one calf every two to four years. At birth, elephants already weigh some 200 pounds and stand about three feet tall.
Elephants are herbivores, which means they eat plants. They eat a wide variety of different plants and plant parts. Their diet depends heavily on where they live, what is available, and what season it is. Some common foods include grasses, palms, legumes, flowers, fruits, roots, bamboo, and more. Some feed on farmers crops, like sugarcane.
An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day.
Elephants are crepuscular—they typically sleep during the day and are most active at dawn and dusk.
Does the Asian Elephant Make a Good Pet
I am thinking strictly from a caretaker perspective that elephants do not make good pets. They are fairly large and require a large space to live comfortably. Also, feeding an elephant must be quite expensive.