Elephant, African – Trunk

Loxodonta africana


An elephant’s trunk is formed by the merging of the nose and the upper lip. Consisting of over 100,000 muscles and tendons it serves many functions such as smelling, breathing, holding, touching and communicating. It is strong enough to lift a baby elephant up a steep river bank and has the precision and dexterity required to pick a needle up from a flat surface. Vote for more elephant facts at African elephant and elephant’s teeth.

Conservation status : Vulnerable
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Family : Elephantidae
Genus : Loxodonta
Species : L. africana

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Elephants are born with a stunted trunk which rapidly elongates over a few days. However, it takes three months for the calf to master this complicated tool.

Elephants are fussy when it comes to their drinking water. They sometimes use their trunk to blow the scum off the surface before drinking and will often dig a small hole next to a main water source so clean water filters through.

An elephant’s trunk which consists of over 100,000 muscles and tendons is formed by the merging of the nose and the upper lip.

Elephants will greet each other by the lower ranked individual inserting its trunk in to the mouth of the other. This may be to swap chemical clues and could also be an act of respect.

The African elephant has two finger like projections at the end of its trunk. These are so sensitive and dextrous that it can pick up a needle from a flat surface.

Elephants often use their trunk to sniff, pick up and move the bones of dead elephants in an act of grieving.

An elephant can suck 4 litres of water into its trunk which it then squirts into its mouth to drink. It may drink 130 litres of water a day with a large bull taking in as much as 230 litres with the capacity to drink 100 litres in one go.

Trumpeting is produced by the elephant blowing so hard through its nostrils that the trunk resonates.