Elephant Trunk

Elephant trunk in the water

An elephant trunk seems to be a really strange thing - until you see how useful it is to its owner. It kind of makes you want one of your own.

This remarkable appendage is extremely versatile. Strong yet gentle - an elephant can push down whole trees with it, yet pick up a single seed off the ground.

Elephants Trunk Uses:

Elephant trunk in action

Eat - an adult elephant eats grass, seeds, roots, bark, leaves, fruit, tender shoots and bark, totalling about 200kg (440 pounds) a day. It uses its trunk to pluck, strip, pick up and push over its food.

Drink - an adult elephant drinks up to 200 litres (52 gallons) of water a day. It sucks the water up into its trunk then sprays it into its mouth to swallow litres at a time.

Spray bath - elephants spray themselves with water to stay cool. They often take a dust bath after a water bath, presumably to keep ticks and flies away.

Breathe - quite important! The elephant breathes through its trunk as well as mouth.

Sniff and smell - if you watch a herd of elephants for a period of time, chances are you'll see them sticking their trunks in the air, often all in one direction. They are sniffing the air when they do this, trying to identify other elephant herds, or investigating a whiff of danger in the air (it may be you!).

Help - smaller elephants up when they've fallen, or to get up onto a river bank.

Discipline - it's been recorded that elephant cows use their trunk to wallop their baby if they don't take heed of warnings (like, "stay away from the river bank - you might fall off"!).

When observing and photographing elephants, you may sometimes see an elephant drape its trunk over a tusk. It looks quite strange but it seems they do this simply to rest the overworked appendage.