What do elephants eat?

Elephants are herbivores, meaning they consume a purely plant-based diet. Their diet consists primarily of grasses, leaves, roots, fruits, bark, and other vegetation. Here are the key points about an elephant's diet based on the provided search results:

Diet Composition

  • Elephants eat a wide range of plants including grasses, leaves, shrubs, fruits, roots, bamboo, and tree bark1234.
  • They use their tusks to strip bark from trees and dig for roots4.
  • Asian elephants prefer monocot plants like palms, bamboo, and grasses, while African elephants prefer to break apart tree saplings and consume their foliage4.

Quantity of Food

  • An adult elephant can consume 100-330 lbs (45-150 kg) of vegetation daily234.
  • They spend 16-18 hours per day, or nearly 80% of their time, feeding34.
  • Elephants have a poor digestive efficiency of only 44%, so they need to consume large quantities4.

Water Intake

  • In addition to food, elephants drink 25-50 gallons (100-200 liters) of water per day4.
  • During droughts, they use their tusks to dig for water sources4.

Feeding Behavior

  • Elephants are both grazers (eating grass) and browsers (eating leaves and twigs)
  • They may consume over 300 different plant species
  • The oldest female (matriarch) leads the herd and has the best memory of food and water locations, aiding survival4.
In summary, elephants have a herbivorous diet dominated by grasses, vegetation, roots, and bark. They consume staggering amounts due to their size and poor digestion, spending most of their day foraging and feeding under the guidance of the experienced matriarch1234
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