Elephants | Elephantidae
Elephants are the largest existing land mammals and can be found in Africa and Asia. Elephants used to be a common animal, but their species have been severely depleted due to poaching for their ivory tusks. Female elephants live in groups with other females and their calves and are led by one matriarch. Male elephants tend to live alone, interacting only with the groups of females for mating season. Elephants have the largest gestation term of any mammal, with the mothers carrying their young for 22 months before giving birth.
An elephant has a vegetarian diet, and eats between 330 – 375 pounds (149 – 169 kg) of vegetation and drinks 40 gallons (152 L) of water every day. Elephants eat grasses, small plants, bushes, fruits, twigs, tree bark, and roots. They eat between 16 to 18 hours a day – 80% of an elephant’s day is spent eating.
Elephants can typically run up to a speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) and most African elephants typically have a speed of 15 mph (25km/h). They are able to move fast over short distances when they feel threatened. While running they always have one 1 foot on the ground, as they are too heavy to take all their feet off the ground.
Elephants in captivity are able to sleep between 3 to 7 hours a day and lay down for 1 to 5 hours while eating between naps. Elephants in the wild usually rest for 2 hours at night and are able to 46 hours without sleep to avoid predators. Elephants lie down to sleep or stand and lean against a tree for support.