What Do Elephants Eat in the Wild

Elephants generally forage for several hours and they consume more than 100 different kinds of plants. They browse through an excessive proportion of grass in regions where there is short grass and this happens both in wet season as well as dry season.

In these regions during the dry season, elephants confine themselves to sedges and grasses that grows near the streams and of which 85 – 90% are consumed. In the wet season, however, they start grazing once the grass reaches a length of 0.5 meter. You might be wondering as to what do elephants eat! Then, check out the real facts about their dietary habits.

Elephants seldom browse through forests that are covered with mixed tall grass but the emergence of new grass, once the rain finishes, is generally greeted by these animals. In this season, elephants consume almost 70 – 75% tall grass.

All in all, elephants browse almost 70% of grass during the dry season whereas in winter, they consume 54%. Studies conducted in Sri Lanka indicates that grass form an essential part of elephant’s diet. Elephants inhabiting Ruhuna National Park, for instance, predominantly feed on short grasses.

They primarily consume between 1.5% and 1.9% of their body weight in dry and wet season respectively. They spend 6 – 7 hours in intensive feeding.

What Do Elephants Eat in the Wild

  • Apart from eating tall and short grasses, elephants also rely on aquatic plants, twigs, numerous forbs, several shrubs, fruits, roots, bark, pith of baobabs, lianas, herbs, creepers, twigs, shoots, fruit pods, seeds, succulent plants, thorns, stems, reeds, flowers, tubers, and trees.
  • The fruiting season ranges from December to February during which elephants spend 35% of their feeding time feeding on seeds. They are known to consume as many as 29 species of fruits in one season.
  • Some of the most common plants which elephants like to feed on are; Palmae, Fabaceae, Cyperaceae, Moraceae, Malvaceae, Tiliaceae, Combretaceae, and Rhamnaceae.
  • The elephants are also classified as versatile feeders especially when it comes to handling numerous parts of plants. Take grass, for instance, not only are the leaves eaten, but the whole clumps are uprooted.
  • They chew the entire small herbaceous plants. They fancy eating fresh foliage but sometimes elephants also browse through dry twigs and branches when the need arises.

Read More: Elephant Facts For Kids

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A Herd of African Elephants
Image Courtesy of www.africa-wildlife-detective.com

What Do African Elephants Eat?

African elephants are known to consume 450 kilograms (992 lb) of grass or vegetation in a single day. Despite the fact that they have poor digestive system in that only 40% of this food is properly digested. African elephants employ their tusks and trunk to tear of branches which can indeed cause great damages.

African elephant is by far the largest living territorial mammal on the planet earth. Want to know more amazing facts about african elephants! Read on these African Elephant Facts For Kids

What Do Asian Elephants Eat?

  • Generally, elephants are megaherbivores and they eat up to 150 kg (330 lb) of plant matter in one day. They are termed as browsers and regular grazers and are found consuming more than 100 different kinds of plants including sedge, legume, true grass, and palms.
  • Asian elephants fancy browsing in dry season with bark making up bulk of their diet. They can feed at any time but there are two primary feeding peaks in a day.
  • The adult elephants spend 72 – 90% of their daily time in feeding and searching for food.
  • These adults consume up to 7 kg of plants per hour, and they feed 18 hours per day, which means they eat 150 kg in twenty four hours.
  • They prefer high-quality grasses to woody plants since they have lesser chemical defenses and are relatively easier to digest.

Asian Elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Read on these Indian Elephant Facts For Kids for more information.

What Do African Bush Elephants Eat?

African bush elephants are herbivorous. Depending on the type of habitat, their diet changes such as those living in partial deserts, grasslands, or in forests often rely on trees, herbs and shrubby leaves but in different proportions. African bush elephant consumes up to 225 kg (500 lb) of plant matter each day.

What Do African Forest Elephants Eat?

The African forest elephant relies on bark, leaves, fruits, and sometimes on mineral licks. They are herbivorous. They consume a large proportion of fruits.

What Do Sri Lankan Elephants Eat?

These elephants are known as megaherbivores and they eat 150 kg (330 lb) of vegetation per day. They feed on large number of plants such as herbs, shrubs, simple grass or climbers. They also consume leftover crop plants in fallow chenas. Unlike adults, young elephants solely rely on grass for their daily consumption.

How Much Do Elephants Drink?

  • Elephants need large quantities of water daily as they drink more than 100 litres of water in a single attempt while up to 225 litres in a day.
  • African elephants are nevertheless capable to go by several days without drinking and this is specifically true for those residing in Namibian deserts. Sometimes, when the water is scarce or is unavailable in streams or ponds, they dig holes or dry stream beds with the help of their forefeet and trunk.

Have you ever thought of keeping an elephant as your pet? What do you think, will you be able to fill up its huge tummy. Leave your response in the comments below.

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