Elephants continue to prove to us that they are impressive creatures. They’re strong, smart and have many capabilities that humans do not. With those many capabilities come myths that have accumulated over the years. A popular one being: can an elephant drink through their trunk? Our team wants to debunk this myth and share more interesting African elephant trunk facts.
Picturing an elephant drinking water with its trunk acting as a straw isn’t too far off from reality. Elephants do use their trunks to help them drink, but they do not drink through their trunk. Instead, they store water in their trunk and then transfer it to their mouth.
An elephant can hold around a quarter of a gallon of water in its trunk, but bull elephants can hold around 2.5 gallons of water. They hold water in their trunks to drink or to spray over themselves to cool down or shower.
Hydration is a major part of an elephant’s daily routine. An elephant can consume up to 50 gallons of water in a day. They have to drink such large amounts of water to cater to their huge size. On top of drinking mass quantities of water, elephants can also go four days without water. They stay near main water sources and can smell water sources from up to three miles away. Smelling out and storing water are a couple of the key survival skills an elephant learns at a young age.
Their ability to hold large amounts of water is impressive, but their trunks can do far more than just that! Their trunks are used to grab and pick up both large and small objects, snorkel underwater, communicate and smell.
To accompany their large size, it’s no surprise that their trunks are equally as enormous. An African elephant’s trunk can measure to be around seven feet long!
There are 40,000 muscles in an elephant's trunk, making it a very strong appendage. In comparison, a human has 600 muscles that make up the entire body. The muscles that make up the elephant trunk are able to contract and expand to create intricate movements. This allows elephants to uproot trees or grab something as dainty as a tortilla chip. Their trunk functions similarly to the human arm, is structured like a tongue, but is the equivalent of a nose.
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