What do elephants eat?
They say that the lion is the king of beasts. However, this statement can be argued. Elephants - the largest of the living mammals, are fully eligible to claim this title. Their natural habitat is tropical forests and savannas of Southeast Asia and Africa. However, elephants are often kept in captivity. Of course, in private zoos, elephants are rarely found. It is difficult to imagine how much it costs to keep elephants in captivity and how much money will need to be spent on their food. Have you ever wondered what elephants eat? Let's try to figure it out.
There are two main types of elephants: African and Indian. Some scientists also suggest that East African elephants be singled out as a separate group, but this question remains open.
Food in the wild
The basis of the diet of elephants - the vegetation. They use their trunks to pluck leaves from trees, and tusks to clear leaves from branches. African elephants consume up to 450 kg of food per day, with about 250 kg of vegetation, the rest is liquid.Indian elephants consume two times less food. Of the total amount of food consumed in elephants, only about 40% are absorbed. This is due to poor digestion.
Indian elephants feed mainly on leaves. In addition, Indian elephants eat grass, young shoots, bark and roots of trees, fruits, nuts and seeds. The bark of the tree is a source of calcium for elephants and helps digestion. Also an integral part of the diet of Indian elephants is hay, flowers, bamboo and acacia leaves. The love of Indian elephants for sugar cane has often led to a conflict between elephants and farmers.
There are not so many trees on the African continent; therefore, grass is the basis of the diet of African elephants. In dry seasons, elephants have to be content with shrubs and tree bark, and also look for root crops from the ground. To compensate for the lack of some minerals and salt in the body, elephants sometimes eat the earth. They dig the earth with tusks, and then eat up a small amount of soil, laying it in the mouth with a trunk. It is known that the elephants that lived on the border of Uganda, in search of salt and minerals dug deep caves in the volcanic rocks of the mountains.
Food in captivity
Some elephants are shown to the public in zoos and in the circus. Eating elephants in captivity should not differ significantly from the nutrition to which elephants are accustomed to in their natural habitat. However, in practice it turns out differently. In zoos, elephants are usually fed with greens in summer and hay in winter. Eating elephants can be varied by a variety of root vegetables, cabbage, apples and bananas. By the way, fruit for elephants is a real delicacy, it's like sweets for children. Elephants, by the way, also eat sweets and other sweets, but they cannot be allowed to abuse sweets - this is bad for their health. In winter, elephants in the diet include more bread and grains, and also add various vitamins and minerals.