What Do Elephants Eat?

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Elephants are primarily herbivores and they spend 16 to 18 hoursm, or almost 80% of their day, collecting plant matter and feeding. They only sleep for a few hours at night, allowing them more daylight hours to search for food.

An Elephant’s Diet

An elephant’s diet is mainly comprised of 50% grasses supplemented with twigs, leaves, bamboo, roots, bark, and small amounts of seeds, flowers and fruits. Since elephants digest only about 40% of the food they eat, they must compensate their digestive system’s inefficiency with volume. Moreover, an elephant needs to eat a lot of food in order to support its large size.

Finding Food

Adult elephants eat between 330 and 375 lbs of vegetation daily. Tree bark is an elephant’s favorite source of food. It contains roughage and calcium and also aids in digestion. These mammals mainly roam over great distances mainly in search of food in order to satisfy their bodily requirements.

In order to obtain nutrients, elephants can eat dislodged pieces of soil. Elephants can dig several feet deep in search of soil that is rich in the minerals such as calcium, salt and other trace elements. Elephants have carved hills in Sumatra and India searching for minerals and salt. The carved areas provide shelter and food for natural wildlife.

How Elephants Eat

Elephants use their tusks for carving into tree trunks and tearing off strips of bark. Additionally, the trunks are also used to churn the soil. Elephants can easily eat a tree by first ripping off and eating the branches and then eating the bark.

Elephants eat tough food which needs to be chewed thoroughly. The grinding teeth at the back of their mouths have the most force. These teeth wear out over time and when this happens, they are replaced by a new set which is pushed in from behind. Elephants have six sets of grinding teeth in total and when the last set wears off, the elephant becomes weak due to lack of food and dies of disease or starvation.

What Elephants Drink

Elephants require between 18 and 26 gallons of water per day, but they may consume up to 40 gallons depending on the temperature. Adult male elephants can drink up to 55 gallons of water in less than five minutes. They can also spray water from their mouths by using their trunks.