Find out fun facts about elephant skin.

Facts about elephant skin

Other than their giant ears and massive tusks, another feature we notice is an elephant's skin color. There is a lot to understand about these mammals, and our team is here to help you learn more about elephants and facts about their skin.

Elephant skin color?

Naturally, an elephant's skin is dark grey. However, due to them bathing and rubbing their skin with dirt and mud, the elephant’s skin can appear other colors as well. 

What is special about it?


The overall thickness of their skin is different throughout the body. In some areas, the skin can reach up to 1.5 inches of thickness or be as thin as 1 mm. The thickness of their skin is important to protect them from the sun's harmful rays and can regulate body temperature.

Retains water

An elephant’s thick skin can fold and wrinkle, which causes it to be able to retain water and moisture. Their skin can hold up to 10 times more water than flat skin. Water retention helps them cool down in the heat. Elephants are also very good at keeping their skin clean and take baths regularly.

Use dust and mud as sunscreen

To protect their skin from the sun, elephants use dust and mud as a natural sunscreen. This makes their skin appear as the color of the dirt or mud that covers their body. Covering their bodies in the dirt also helps repel bugs. They opt for mud in the warmer months to keep their skin cooler.

How much does it weigh?

Elephants aren’t small creatures, so it’s no surprise that their skin weighs a hefty amount. On average their skin can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds! 

How tough is their skin?

The wrinkly exterior of an elephant's skin is actually the toughest layer. This layer is called the stratum corneum and is resistant to shedding. It is exposed to everyday elements and is very durable. Due to the constant everyday movement, this layer withstands it wrinkles. Each layer of skin eventually begins to wrinkle, making it able to hold moisture and dirt. The appearance of the skin is rough but soft and delicate to the touch.

Why do some elephants have hair?

Asian elephants

It might not be noticeable, but Asian elephants have a small patch of hair on their heads. The hair is thin and is mainly visible on their head, chin, or the tips of their tail. Surprisingly, their hair helps them stay cool during the hot weather and ensures that they don’t overheat.

African elephant research

Support elephant research and conservation by joining ‘Herd of Heroes’. By joining this program, you can give a monthly donation and help us provide specialized care for elephants in zoos. Help us fight elephant extinction and join below!

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