20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Who’s hungry? A Human Smorgasbord for Flesh-eating Piranha!

Swarm of carnivorous piranha attacked hundreds of bathers!

Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs

Christmas was a very warm day along the Parana River near Rosario, Argentina. Hundreds of city dwellers were trying to escape the 100-degree weather in the cooler waters of a popular beach about 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. But then, they began to notice bite marks on their hands and feet.

A swarm of carnivorous fish attacked hundreds of bathers, sending around 70 people to local clinics and emergency rooms for treatment.

The local Director of lifeguards, Federico Cornier, told reporters from BBC and other broadcasters in the area “it’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great… This is an exceptional event.”

A man is treated at a clinic in Rosario, Argentina, after a school of flesh-eating palometas, a type of piranha, attacked swimmers cooling off in the Parana River on Christmas Day. As per LA Times “Flesh-eating fish attack swimmers in Argentine river; 70 injured” (Silvina Salinas / Associated Press Photo/ December 25, 2013)

Cornier said that the fish responsible for the attacks were “palometas”, a type of piranha with large sharp teeth. Dozens of people had their extremities attacked. Paramedic Alberto Manino, speaking with the Associated Press, said that some children he had treated had lost entire digits!

The term ‘palometa’ is a common name used for several types of fish. This includes the Piranha, but it is also used for a Caribbean gamefish Trachinotus goodie and a Western Atlantic fish, the Maracaibo Leatherjacket Oligoplites palometa.

The Piranhas belong to a sub-family called the Serrasalminae, or the ‘serrated salmon family’ consisting of around 60 species. The unmistakable trademark features of the Piranha are their triangular, razor sharp teeth. As described in Piranha: Story of the Piranha Fish from Predator to Prey, these teeth enable them to ‘slice off pieces of meat, fins or scales, literally taking apart their prey piece by piece.’

The palometa that attacked these bathers is most likely the Red Piranha Pygocentrus nattereri, also called the Red-bellied Piranha. This is a very widespread species, occurring in several river basins of South American. Although it typically grows between about 3 to 9 1/2 inches (8-24 cm) in length, one specimen was reported at a whooping 19 1/2 inches (50 cm).

Keeping the Red Piranha in the aquarium is truly a fascination. In the wild the Red Piranha lives in large schools. This type of school is not usually possible in an aquarium, but with the proper environment these fish will show some traits of their wild behavior. In nature the largest fish is the ‘alpha’ animal and in the aquarium it is the most aggressive and bold. The alpha fish will dominate the best spaces in the tank and will basically own the feeding ritual. All other members are subordinate and will take on the traits of servants. Any unwilling ‘servants’ will be quickly and aggressively put in their place by the alpha fish!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and animal species write-ups.