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How Much Do Elephants Weigh?

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: November 21, 2021
Image Credit Peter Betts/Shutterstock.com
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The elephant is the largest land animal on the planet. There are three kinds of elephants with scientist recently splitting the African elephant into two distinct species. The three elephant species are African savanna (or bush), African forest and Asian elephant. Let’s take a look at all three to see how much these giant creatures weigh.

So, How Much Does an Elephant Weigh?

Elephants generally weigh between 4,500 and 11,000 pounds on average. How large an elephant gets depends on which of the three elephant species it is. However, the largest elephant on record weighed 24,000 pounds (more on this below!), so in very rare cases they can weigh truly extraordinary weights!

Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth, but let’s dig a little deeper into the weight of different elephant species.

#3 The third heaviest elephant is the African forest elephant.

Are elephants mammals - baby elephant with mother
An African forest elephant mother with her calf, at the Dzanga saline (a forest clearing) in the Central African Republic.

The Africa forest elephant lives in the rainforests of west and central Africa. They have the fewest numbers and are considered endangered. As babies elephants start out at 200 lbs and grow to be 1-3 tons (4,400-8,800lbs). My mini-van weighs 4,600lbs so it is about the size of a small African forest elephant!

#2 The second heaviest elephant is the Asian elephant.

Elephant bathing on southern banks of the Periyar river, India
An Asian elephant bathing in a river

Dmytro Gilitukha/Shutterstock.com

The truth is, ranking the African forest elephant and Asian elephant is an inexact science, as you could make an argument for either one being larger. Male Asian elephants typically weigh up to 8,800 pounds (similar to African forest elephants) while females weight up to about 6,000 pounds. The largest Asian elephant ever recorded weighed about 15,400 pounds. On the other hand, African forest elephants were only recently recognized as a distinct species, so it’s hard to say just how large they get!

The bottom line, both the elephant species that typically live in forest environments are smaller than the largest elephant on this list, the savanna (or bush) elephant that lives across African plains.

#1 The heaviest elephant is the African bush elephant!

Tallest Animals: African Bush Elephant
Elephants communicate in a variety of ways – including sounds like trumpet calls (some sounds are too low for people to hear), body language, touch and scent. Sadly, about 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the last century due to poaching.

African bush elephants live in sub-Saharan Africa on the plains and savannas. Literally the biggest baby, African savanna babies weigh an average of 264 lbs with some starting out as big as 364 lbs! Makes sense because when they are adults they can reach 7 tons or more. They range in size from 2.5-7 tons (5,000-14,000lbs). A large African savanna elephant is about the size of your favorite street taco truck!

What part of the elephant is the heaviest?

elephants using tusks to defend
Elephants use their tusks to help protect their territory.
  • Big Brain: 10 lbs

A research study showed that an African elephant’s brain weighs 10 lbs and has 257 billion neurons! That is three times bigger and has three times more neurons than a human brain.

  • Giant Tooth: 11 lbs

The back molars of an African elephant can weigh 11 lbs and get to be 16 inches wide!

  • Ginormous Ears: 100 lbs EACH

African elephant ears are used to help elephants stay cool. Their ears can be 6ft tall!

  • Heavy Tusks: 110-175 lbs EACH

Both male and female Africa elephants can grow tusks. The adult male tusks are 110-175lbs each and the female tusks are quite a bit smaller at 40-44lbs.

What is the heaviest elephant ever recorded?

How Much Do Elephants Weigh - The Largest Elephant Ever
Henry, the largest elephant on record, can be found at the entrance to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum

If you pull up the Smithsonian website you will see it! If you want to see it in person you can travel to the Smithsonian Museum and see it in the lobby, all 11 tons of it. That is 24,000 lbs! A Hungarian game hunter donated the hide of this enormous elephant in 1959. It was shot in Angola and the hide was preserved. The elephant on display has been given the name “Henry” and is carefully cleaned and maintained by museum staff. Most rooms have 8ft ceilings so Henry wouldn’t fit. A school bus weighs around 24,000 lbs, the same as Henry. Now that is a big elephant!

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness and suggesting actions we can all do to help wildlife. As a former elementary school teacher I have a love for learning and teaching. My goal is to get kids fired-up about animals. Learning about the animals we share this earth with makes life better. When I am not writing I am living the good life with my husband and six kids (we are down to two that are still at home...and our giant labradoodle, Tango!).

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