Find out more about the Asian elephant

Childbirth problems

At Maetaeng Elephant Park we have a great success rate in the birth of baby elephants, but as with all births there can be complications. The most common issue are Breached Births where the baby has turned sideways in the womb. Without specialist assistance, these calves will end up still born and the mother could suffer permanent damage.

Snake bites

The jungles around the Maetaman valley are home to dozens of different species of snakes many of them extremely dangerous and so snakes bites are a constant threat.

Cracked toenails

Split or cracked toenails are very painful for the elephant and need treatment.

Bot fly bites

These insects lay eggs under the skin and, left untreated, can cause massive infections.


A common complaint suffered by elephants due to their diet which causes constipation. The usual cure is to attempt to remove the blockage manually. This is not a pleasant task.

Differences between the African and Asian elephant

The Asian Elephant is different from its African counterpart in many ways:

It is smaller, with males growing to approximately 9 ft tall and weighing in at 9,000 pounds while the females are slightly smaller at 7 ft and 6,000 lbs.

In contrast, the African elephant can stand as tall as 12 ft and weigh in at 13,000 Lbs.

The Asian elephant has small ears and it has only one finger on the end of its trunk whereas the African elephant has two fingers.

It also has two bumps on its forehead as opposed to a much flatter head on the African elephant.

Both Male and Female African elephants have tusks which can grow to enormous lengths but the Asian elephant differs here. Most Males grow tusks but they are generally shorter than those of the African elephant, although occasionally you will see an Asian Bull elephant with very long tusks.

Although the Female Asian elephant does not grow tusks as such, they do sometimes develop very short stumpy tusks which are called Tushes.

Elephants trunk

An elephant’s trunk is a truly remarkable appendage.

Weighing in at approximately 140 kg (full grown) and as long as 2 meters, this boneless mass of muscle and flesh is controlled by over 100,000 muscles.

At the end of the trunk there is a small lip which it uses as a finger. This finger is also sensitive to hot and cold and is used to taste food as well as to determine the texture and size of objects.

The trunk, with its thousands of muscles, can push a 600 kg teak log which is why they are used extensively in the forests by logging companies.

The trunk is incredibly strong but also sensitive enough to be able to pick up a small coin off the ground.

The elephant uses its trunk to breath, smell, eat, drink, lift or pick up objects and even to caress its baby or other elephants.

Equally, it can use its trunk to fight or display warning signs by banging it on the ground.

An elephants trunk is arguably the most versatile limb of any animal including humans.

Elephants sense of smell

Elephants have a very good sense of smell, superior to most other animals. It uses this sense of smell to detect the presence of other animals and possible predators, which compensates for its poor eyesight.

Elephants hearing

Elephants have excellent hearing which is far superior to that of a human.

Although it is assumed that the elephants large ears are the reason for its good hearing, that is not completely true. They are used mainly for cooling, which is why they are constantly flapping them, like a fan.

They also use their ears as a warning device, flapping them and banging them against their side to make a loud clapping noise. If you hear this sound, beware because it is a warning!

Elephants eyesight

The Asian elephants have quite poor eyesight. Its eyes are very small in comparison to the size of its head and they can see clearly only up to a distance of about 10 meters.

It is this poor vision that makes them a bit jumpy when near other animals or people.

A sudden movement catches the eye but because of it’s blurred vision the elephant can not make out if there is a threat or not therefore it becomes nervous.

Asian elephants habitat

The Asian elephants are found mainly in forest areas and in particular in the mountains or hilly terrain.

They can live in open Savannah land and marshy areas but they prefer the rain forest because of the abundance of food there.

There are still elephants living in Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Asian elephants diet

Elephants are vegetarian (Herbivore).

Adult elephant eat approximately 250 Kg (550Lbs) per day.

Their diet is a mixture of grass, leaves, twigs, bamboo and a variety of different kinds of fruit and berries.

They do absolutely love bananas, water melon, sugar cane and baby bamboo shoots.

The Asian elephants drink approximately 150 litres of water per day.

Elephants also need a large salt intake and they get this from digging in the ground with their trunks where there are salt deposits and from some of the food that they eat.

The elephants’ digestive systems are very inefficient and they only manage to digest about 50% of the food they eat.

Elephant pregnancy and birth

Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment. Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal—almost 22 months. Cows usually give birth to one calf every two to four years. At birth, elephants already weigh some 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and stand about three feet (1 meter) tall.

The teeth of the Asian elephant

Elephants usually have 26 teeth: the incisors, known as the tusks, 12 deciduous premolars, and 12 molars.

Unlike most mammals, which grow baby teeth and then replace them with a single permanent set of adult teeth, elephants are polyphyodonts that have cycles of tooth rotation throughout their lives.

The chewing teeth are replaced six times in a typical elephant’s lifetime.

Teeth are not replaced by new ones emerging from the jaws vertically as in most mammals. Instead, new teeth grow in at the back of the mouth and move forward to push out the old ones.