Do Elephants Eat Meat?

African animals are the largest terrestrial animals. Their shoulder height can be up to 13 feet and they can weigh up to seven pounds. It would be easy for them to use their intimidating stature to pose a danger to other animals. But are these grey giants predators? Do elephants eat meat? 

No, they do not eat meat. Elephants are herbivores and only eat plants – and a lot of them! These African animals eat about 660 pounds of food a day, and the smaller Indian elephants consume about 330 pounds of food a day. Since elephants can weigh up to 16,500 pounds, it is clear that they need a lot of energy to keep them going. They spend up to 80% of their day feeding – that is 16-18 hours! While it can happen that there are insects or eggs among the vegetation they consume, elephants do not actively prey on other animals. 

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They also drink up to 50 gallons of water every day, which is why they never go far from bodies of water. Elephants like to eat plants of all sizes, anything from grass, roots, to parts of trees. Tree bark is very good for them since it contains a lot of calcium. They also use their trunks to dig in the ground and consume soil that gives them salt and other minerals.

They have large and flat molars that are perfect for grinding the dirt as well as hard leaves. Since this wears the teeth down, elephants go through six sets of molars in their lives. Due to their digging activity, the territory of elephants is often full of holes in the ground where other, smaller animals can hide as well as access minerals they would otherwise not be able to reach. 

Are There Animals that Prey on Elephants? 

Trying to take on a fully-grown elephant would be suicide for most predators, therefore, elephants are not generally prey animals. Lions and hyenas sometimes attack newborn elephants, though, but only in a group. Rarely, even a tiger attacks an elephant – but tigers are mostly more interested in people that are riding on elephants instead of the elephant itself. Tigers have attacked more humans than any other of the big cats, and even the presence of an elephant sometimes does not deter them. Since tigers hunt alone they do not pose a real danger to elephants. 

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Can Elephants Jump? 

You have probably heard the popular piece of trivia that elephants are unable to jump. This is true! They are not the only mammals that cannot jump, though. The other gray giants, rhinos and hippos, for example, cannot jump either – but other than elephants these two are at least able to have all four of their feet off the ground at the same time while running, which is not possible for elephants. The reason for this lies in the skeletal structure. In the legs of elephants, all bones point straight down as if they were standing on their tip-toes. While this skeletal design is able to support their massive weight it does not give them the spring to bounce upwards. 

Luckily for elephants, there is no real reason why they should jump. Most animals jump to get away from predators, which is not necessary for elephants. And while some animals might find themselves in a situation where they might want to jump a fence, it is extremely difficult to even construct a fence that an elephant cannot simply push over and trample. 

Can Elephants Swim? 

Yes, they can. Their giant bodies provide them with floatation and when they swim they use their trunk as a snorkel while their mouth is underwater. They move all four legs while they are swimming. Since these animals are very strong they can swim long distances when they need to. Some researchers say that elephants once swum from Southern India to Sri Lanka and then settled there. 

Mostly, elephants swim for the same reasons as humans do: to cool off and also because they enjoy themselves! Especially young elephants like playing in the water and splashing water at each other. They even like climbing on the back of bigger members and then tumble back into the water, just like humans who jump from a diving platform.