If you have ever gotten the chance to visit an elephant exhibit at your local zoo, you might have noticed it can get a little hot and sticky in there. Zoos replicate the temperature of an elephant’s natural habitat.
Has that left you wondering how do elephants keep cool in the wild? Our team of African elephant researchers is here to answer this question. Here is what you need to know about the climate elephants live in and how they keep cool.
Where do elephants live?
There are three species of elephants - the Asian elephant, African savanna elephant and African forest elephant. As their name indicates, elephants live on two continents, Africa and Asia. Wild elephants are found in different regions of these two continents with different climates.
The climate where elephants live
Unlike African elephants, Asian elephants have subspecies. Their subspecies are found in the grasslands and forests of India and Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Asian elephants live in tropical regions, but some areas are much cooler than others. The average temperature that Asian elephants live in ranges from the low 70s to the mid-80s. Temperatures in these regions do not change dramatically throughout the seasons. The change of seasons is normally marked by precipitation.
African elephant researchers have recently stated that there are two species of African elephants - the African forest elephant and the African savanna elephant. These species are found throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and the rainforests of Central and West Africa.
African savanna elephants live in climates that are wet and dry. The average temperature in savannas varies from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This region can get an average of 20 to 50 inches of rain each year. Droughts occur each year in the savanna, which causes fires that burn vegetation. This cycle helps keep the savannas from growing into a tropical forest.
African forest elephants live in a warm and humid climate. The average temperatures in the rainforest are 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures stay around the same each season. The nights are usually cooler. The forests can get an average of 63 to 78 inches of rain each year.
How do elephants keep cool
Elephants are very large animals, the largest land mammals, to be exact. Their size causes them to produce lots of body heat. Elephants regulate their body temperature through their ears, swimming and rolling in mud.
An elephant’s ears are large for a reason. They act as a heat radiator that helps them stay cool. Elephants will increase the flow of blood to their ears to flap them and lose heat. By flapping their ears, elephants create a cool breeze and help cool their bodies’ blood.
Elephants do not sweat, so they need a way to stay cool. Elephants use water and mud to cool their bodies. Their skin traps the water and mud, helping regulate their body temperature. Mud also acts as a sunscreen to protect them from insects and the sun.
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