The Biggest Land Animal on Earth

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: September 27, 2022
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Key Points

  • The African elephant is the largest land animal on earth today.
  • The African elephant can weigh as much as 13,000 pounds.
  • Elephants live in herds of 10-20 members

The African Elephant is the largest land animal on Earth with some adult males capable of reaching 3.5m in height and weighing more than 5,000kg. Their historical range would have once extended throughout much of central and southern Africa, although today they are confined to much smaller areas.

An adult African elephant with a baby walking in a grassy field. Other grazing animals are in the background.

The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal with adult males weighing more than 5,000 kg.

©FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock.com

Found in forests, savannahs, and plains these nomadic animals spend the majority of their time migrating across the African wilderness in search of food and water, in small family groups that contain around 10 individuals and consist of mothers and their calves. Here are just a handful of their most fascinating facts:

A group of African elephants drinking from a body of water.

African elephants migrate across

Africa

in search of food and water in groups of ten or more individuals.

©Efimova Anna/Shutterstock.com

  1. Have four molars that weigh up to 5kg each and can reach 30cm long.
  2. Tusks can grow up to 2.5m long and tend to weigh between 50 – 100 lbs.
  3. Family groups are known to come together forming a clan of around 1,000 individuals.
  4. Their large ears are more useful for cooling them down than for hearing.
  5. They can take 1.5 gallons of water into their trunk at a time.
  6. One individual can drink up to 50 gallons of water a day.
  7. Thought to spend around 16 hours a day eating up to 495lbs of food.
  8. The longest pregnancy of any land mammal lasts for an average of 22 months.
  9. Babies are able to walk shortly after birth and weigh up to 120kg.
  10. They are able to recognize old faces and even grieve for dead relatives.
An elephant with large tusks standing in a field of grass near a body of water, squirting water out of its trunk.

An African

elephant

can drink up to 50 gallons of water a day.

©Donovan van Staden/Shutterstock.com

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Anna Om/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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Sources
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals