An Elephant's Diet

By Janhvi Johorey, Psychologist specialized in animal therapy. January 10, 2017
An Elephant's Diet

Elephants may be known for their memory, but there is yet another distinction that differentiates them in the animal world – their enormous appetite. Elephants consume between 150 to 170 kg of food on a daily basis. In fact, they spent most of their day feeding - up to 18 hours! These huge mammals eat grass, small plants, bushes, fruits, twigs, tree barks, and roots, that is, they are herbivorous animals.

Do you want to know all about an elephant's diet? Stay with us at AnimalWised and discover what do elephants eat, how much food they need and how do they feed. Read on!

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Food for the gentle giant

What is the elephant's favorite food? Tree bark is up there at the top of the list, because these pachyderms love the calcium and roughage which aids their digestion. The elephants' tusks are put to good use by piercing into the trunk and tearing off bark strips.

Besides tree bark, elephants mostly eat flowers, leaves, wild fruits, twigs - especially bamboo - and shrubs. Overall, their main food in the wild is grass.

Elephants also consume anywhere from 18 to 26 gallons of water every day. They may even consume close to 40 gallons on a hot day, and an adult male could end up drinking 55 gallons in less than 5 minutes!

An Elephant's Diet - Food for the gentle giant

Do elephants eat earth?

In order to supplement their diet, elephants will dig up the earth to get salts and minerals. Tusks are used to dislodge pieces of soil and get the nutrients, as vast minerals are accessible to elephants deep in the earth.

This is why African elephants have dug out the entire Ugandan border! Hills have also been carved out by India's pachyderms and the Sumatran elephants. These areas also provide other valuable food as well as shelter for the elephants.

What do elephants eat in captivity?

Elephants graze vast tracts of land to find food in the wild. They can eat plants of any size, from grass to trees. In captivity, their mahout may give elephants lettuce, sugarcane, bananas and other fruits and vegetables. Hay forms a major part of an elephant's diet when it lives in a zoo, national park or with a mahout. The National Zoo in Washington has documented that Indian elephants consumed 125 pounds of hay alone!

How do elephants eat?

An elephant's diet is not only what they eat; it's also how. Elephants use their trunks to feed themselves, ripping grass or leaves from trees. They also use their trunks to drink, sucking water part way up their trunks and squirting it into their mouths. For rougher food sources such as tree bark, they may use their tusks.

What do elephants eat in the summer?

In the summer, when the weather turns dry and the grass dies, elephants will eat any kind of vegetation that they can find. They even eat the toughest bark and the woody parts of plants! Elephants will also use their tusks to dig for roots; the coarse food is eliminated from their system without being chewed or digested completely.

An Elephant's Diet - What do elephants eat in the summer?

Do elephants eat crops?

Tipped to be anywhere between 2500 to 5900 kg, the Indian elephant adores sugar cane and other crops harvested by humans. This causes it to come into conflict with people in villages and agricultural areas. Elephants are known to ruin gardens and rice paddies, and conflicts with farmers increase.

When humans and elephants meet accidentally, things can get dangerous. Here you can find out all about escaping from an elephant attack when you're in that situation.

Can elephants adapt to new diets?

On account of their high intelligence, elephants can modify their eating habits based on their habitat. A diverse range of ecosystems can be used to promote elephant survival from forests to woodlands, savanna, grassy plains, swamp areas and sparse deserts.

From roots and berries to seedpods and fruits, the water-loving creatures can eat a lot of different foods. In dry areas, they can even dig for water.

An Elephant's Diet - Can elephants adapt to new diets?

This is all about an elephant's diet, from their favorite food sources to how much food they eat. If you want to learn more about elephants, take a look at the following articles:

If you want to read similar articles to An Elephant's Diet, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.

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JJ Bunn
What are some cool comments about the elephant.
thank you.
Elephants are the coolest animals on Earth.
where is elephants food source
All around, and up, and dig, with their long trunks. They eat vegetation: grasses, leaves and tree bark; as well as fruits, berries and seeds, nuts.
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