All elephants have several distinctive features, the most notable of which is a long trunk (also called a proboscis), used for many purposes, particularly breathing, lifting water, and grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants’ large ear flaps help to control their body temperature. Their pillar-like legs can carry their great weight. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.
Elephants live in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia. They are found most often in savannas, grasslands, and forests, but they also live in deserts, swamps, and mountains.
Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size.
Sixteen to eighteen hours, or nearly 80% of an elephant’s day is spent feeding. Elephants consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots. Tree bark is a favorite food source for elephants. It contains calcium and roughage, which aids digestion.