Elephant with tusk in the air and mountains behind him
Can elephants jump

Can Elephants Jump? (Why Not)

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  • Post category:Elephants
  • Post last modified:5 February 2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Elephants are beautiful giant living land mammals. They have strong legs that hold their massive body up. These animals also have many admirable qualities. They are very intelligent, have an excellent sense of smell, and rarely get cancer. Just like humans, elephants also have a complex social life. However, they lack some behavioural qualities compared to the other mammals. For example, elephants move slowly, and they can swim for hours. They have unique trunks which they use for breathing, drinking, and eating. But can the elephants jump?

Elephants cannot jump. Elephants legs, knee and ankle structures are not strong enough or built to allow them to leap in the air and to land safely. That means the elephant cannot jump even if they want to do it.

Why Can’t Elephants Jump?

The enormous weight of the animals will prevent them from jumping. The elephants’ leg muscles and bone structure are not strong enough to bear the impact if an elephant tries to jump in the air. 

Mammals that can jump in the air have strong Achilles tendons and calf muscles. They also have flexible ankles, which support the impact when they come down to the ground. 

Compared to the other mammals, elephants do not have strong lower leg muscles. The elephants’ ankles are not flexible, and they are not strong enough to bear the impact of jumping.

Even though the elephants have the same number of leg bones in their legs, they have very different muscle structures. 

Elephants have straight legs that do not give them enough leverage to spring up in the air and leave the ground altogether.

That does not mean elephants cannot run. Elephants are often seen running excitedly and fast. However, while running, elephants cannot take all four of their feet off the ground. They have to keep at least two of their legs on the ground all the time, even when they do not gain that much weight. The reason is their unique body structure. If the elephants do not keep two of their legs on the ground, they will be very unstable, which will make them topple over easily.

Elephants Dont Need To Jump

Over hundreds of years, all animals have specialised in one aspect of their life at the expense of others. Just like all the animals, elephants have also done that. Over centuries, these animals got bigger and heavier. Why would you need to jump when you are so big?

The natural habitat of the elephants plays a massive role in their non-jumping abilities. As the elephants mostly live in African Savanna or Tropical rainforest, they do not have any obstacles to jump over. They can step over most of the hurdles easily that they face in their natural habitat.

Elephants Stand Their Ground

Another reason is that elephants do not have many predators in the wild. Even though lions and other predators target baby elephants as their prey, adult elephants do not have any predators that they need to evade. So, if the elephants feel threatened, they tend to attack instead of jumping away from the situation.

Reaching For Leaves

The elephants can stand on their two hind legs. In the wild, the elephants only stand on their two legs to reach for fresh leaves. However, if they can’t get the leaves from being on their two hind legs, in most cases, they push over the entire tree instead.

Can baby elephants jump?

Even though there is a misconception that elephants can jump in joy like bunnies, this is not true. If you observe a baby elephant closely, you will see that they do not tend to jump at all. Even though you can see the baby elephants running across the ground excitedly, they never try to leave the ground. Jumping is not their innate nature.

Elephants can walk long distances, and they do not run that often. Most probably, the reason is, they do not have the endurance to run for a long time. Even if an elephant starts to run, it cannot go faster than 24 km per hour.


Even though elephants are too heavy to jump or run for a long time, they are excellent swimmers. While the elephants do not live in places where they are compelled to swim, they can do it excellently.

If needed, elephants can swim for more than 6 hours at a stretch. Their huge lungs and trunks help them to swim for hours without getting tired.

Recommended Read: Can An Elephant Swim?

When elephants get tired from swimming, they can float on the water and take a rest. The massive bodyweight of the elephants gives them the required buoyancy to stay afloat. 

Baby elephants are good swimmers as well. But they cannot start swimming right after being born. They need time to figure out how to swim in the water before they begin to do it.


There is no doubt that elephants are fascinating animals with exceptional intelligence and behavioristic features. I hope you have got the answer to your question along with some added learning.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. Teresa has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.