Elephants seem to have one of the best memories of all animals.
The long lifespan of elephants do require that they have a good memory. There is proof that elephants have recognized urine samples from group members they had been separated from for a few decades.
This good memory is very beneficial for survival when knowledge about where to find food, water and security is very useful during extreme climatic cycles.
Did you know an elephant’s height can be estimated from the size of its footprint?
Its footprint can determine the height of an elephant. For males shoulder height is approximately 5,8 time the length of the hind footprint (and in the case of females 5,5 times).
An elephant’s foot generally measures 40 - 50 centimetres in length and width and has a circumference of about 1.34 meters.
The footprint can also indicate the age of an elephant. Younger elephants leave a more defined footprint than older elephants that might have smoother ridges and well-worn heels.
All mammals can be divided into different groups based on their foot posture while standing. Elephants fall into a group called near-ungulates, which refers to the fact that they have toenails rather than hooves.
An elephant’s foot is designed in such a way that elephants actually walk on the tips of their toes. African elephants have 4 nails on their front feet and 3 nails on their back feet. These nails are worn down and do not always show on their footprints. The sole of the foot is covered in a thick epidermal layer tissue that acts like shock absorbers. This allows the elephant to move surprisingly silently.
The ridges and grooves give it a good grip some stability when walking over a variety of terrains. The reason that elephants can walk so quietly is in part due to the fibro elastic layer providing a spongy cushion on the bottom of the foot. This allows the foot to mould over objects on the ground thereby effectively smothering the objects beneath it.
How do African elephants sleep?
African elephants can sleep standing up for a few minutes at a stretch but they do lie down in order to sleep more deeply. Adult elephants sleep for about 3 to 4 hours at night, a whole family group at the same place and time, while young elephants are sometimes overcome by sleep at other times. Then you can see their mothers patiently guarding their sleep.
Elephants even snore at times. They will also lie down in the heat of the day for an hour or two.
Can elephants swim?
Elephants enjoy showering by sucking water into their trunks and spraying it all over themselves. Afterward, they often spray their skin with a protective coating of dust.
If it is possible an elephant goes to water once a day to drink, bathe and wallow in mud. On average it will drink 70 to 90 litres a day but it can down 150 litres when thirsty. Wallowing in mud is an important activity for elephants. It cools them off and it protects its skin against parasites.
In deep water an elephant will immerse itself completely. Elephants can swim across lakes and rivers with only the tip of their trunks showing. Elephants shower themselves with dust and sand for the same reasons. Sand also acts as a useful substance to help dislodge ticks when the elephant rubs itself on rocks and trees.
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