Animals In Print
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20 November 2010 Issue

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All About Elephants

All About Elephants Life Cycles By Karen Rae

Elephants are the largest land animals in existence. There are three species: African bush, African forest and Asian elephants. Elephant live for up to 70 years in a structured social society. The elephant life cycle is is broken into three stages: baby, adolescent and adult.

Time Frame

The baby stage lasts from birth until the elephant is weaned from his mother's milk; this occurs between age 5 and 10. Adolescence begins with weaning and ends at age 17, when the elephant reaches sexual maturity. Adulthood begins at age 18.


Babies are entirely dependent upon their mothers. The mother feeds, cleans and assists in migration until age 3 to 5, when it will begin learn independence. Sexual maturity of the adolescent is reached between ages 8 and 13. Adolescent elephants do not engage in mating, but rather find their place in the herd or drift to another.


Adult elephants begin mating around age 20 and stop reproducing around age 50. Babies are born just before the start of the wet season, when the plants are softer and easier to chew. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal: 22 months.

Elephants experience many of the same ailments as humans in old age, including menopause, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

How Do Elephants Sleep? By Alice Bodine

How Do Elephants Sleep?
Length of an Elephant's Sleep

Elephants are not good sleepers. Elephants feel that they must be on the alert for predators. This is true of elephants in the wild and elephants in the zoo. As a result, elephants sleep a maximum of four hours per day/night. This four hours is not in a row. Elephants sleep for about 30 minutes and then get up for something to eat and then lie back down. They repeat this cycle until they get about four hours of sleep.

How Elephants Sleep

Elephants sleep directly on the ground. They lie down on the ground and sleep on their sides. Since they get up a lot they often switch sides. They may lie on their left side for 30 minutes, get up and eat, and then lie back down on their right side for another 30 minutes. The reason is that elephants are big animals . Their bodies are quite heavy so when they lie down to get some rest they put all their weight on their bones. This is not comfortable for the elephant.

Do Elephants Sleep Together

Elephants don't sleep together and in fact, they don't even sleep at the same time. This goes back to their watchfulness for predators. In a herd of elephants you will find some elephants awake at night while some are just going to sleep and others are just waking up. Since the elephants don't sleep long anyway you will never find a time when all of the elephants are asleep. If an elephant is asleep and there is a noise in another cage (at the zoo) the elephant will quickly jump up and stay awake. So elephants are very light sleepers.

How to Tell an African and Asian Elephant Apart By an eHow Contributor

African elephants and Asian elephants are two types of elephants that can be readily differentiated from each other if you know what to look for. The next time you're at the zoo and you are wondering which kind of elephant you are looking at, here is how to identify both African and Asian elephants.

1. Take note of the elephants' size. The African elephant is slightly larger than the Asian elephant. African elephants weigh between 4,000 and 7,000 kilograms and are between 3 and 4 meters tall (shoulder height). Asian elephants weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 kilograms and are between 2 and 3.5 meters tall (shoulder height).

2. Observe the skin of these two types of elephants. The skin of the African elephant is darker in color than the skin of the Asian elephant, and it's more wrinkled as well. Asian elephants have smoother skin.

3. Notice the shapes of the elephants' backs. The back of the African elephant is concave, and the back of the Asian elephant is convex, straight or level.

4. Look at the shape of the elephants' heads. African elephants have a sloped head that does not have any bulges, bumps or dents on it. Asian elephants have a rounded head. They also have bumps on the top of their heads and a dented forehead.

5. Examine the elephants' ears. The African elephant has larger ears than the Asian elephant. The ears on the African elephant can be up to four meters in width. The ears of the Asian elephant do not cover its neck, whereas the ears of the African elephant do.

6. Study the tusks of the elephants. Both male and female African elephants have tusks. Males have bigger tusks than females. Male Asian elephants also have trunks, however female Asian elephants do not.

7. Pay attention to the trunks. The African elephant has two "fingers" on the end of its trunk, and the Asian elephant has only one. The trunk of the Asian elephant is also harder than the trunk of the African elephant.

source: .

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