Indian Elephant Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

What's the difference between Asian, Africa, and Indian elephants? Find out about the amazing Indian elephant and why this strong, powerful animal is now endangered.

What Is the Indian Elephant?

When you think of an elephant, you might picture a large gray animal with big ears. But did you know that there is more than one type of elephant? There are African and Asian elephants, and their names are based on where they are from. Asian elephants have smaller ears than African elephants. The Indian elephant, which this lesson discusses, is a subspecies of Asian elephant that has been important in India for many years.

Indian elephant
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Indian elephants grow to be about 6-11 feet tall and can weigh about 5 tons. That's 10,000 pounds! It's the largest animal on land. Scientists today understand that these beautiful animals are not just large; they are also incredibly smart.

Body Parts

Other than its ears, the trunk is probably one of an elephant's best-known features. The trunk is really an amazing system of muscles. The elephant uses its trunk to lift heavy things, eat, breathe, drink, and spray water, but it can also make smaller movements like a hand. Two elephants meeting each other will sometimes touch trunks the way humans shake hands.

The Indian elephant can use its trunk to pick up food and put it in its mouth. Elephants are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. Banana, grass, bark, stems, and leaves are part of an Indian elephant's diet. Because they're so big, they eat and poop a lot. All of this eating and pooping are good for the environment and the land.

Indian elephants have a special pouch near their throat that allows them to make noises. People cannot hear some of these noises, but other elephants can and will answer back. The pouch holds water that elephants use to cool off by reaching their trunks into their mouths.

Elephants have big tusks that protect their trunks and are helpful for digging holes. While male and female African elephants have tusks, only male Indian elephants have tusks.

Indian elephants
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The Elephant Family

Elephants live in groups, look out for each other, and solve problems together. Older females lead the group, while males usually stay separate. When an elephant is first born, it is about 3 feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds. If a baby elephant is in danger, the herd will circle around to protect it.

Male Indian elephants stay in their herd until they are around 14 years old, while females stay forever. Elephants usually live to be 60-80 years old.

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