elephant and some raw meat
Are elephants meat eaters?

Do Elephants Eat Meat? Or Are They Herbivores?

Elephants are one of the most iconic creatures on earth. People love them for their intelligence, playful personalities, and striking features. Let’s find out about elephants’ diets and whether elephants eat meat.

No, elephants are herbivores and do not eat meat. They eat a variety of plants, fruits and vegetables instead. If you want to learn more about what elephants eat, keep reading.

Elephants are the largest land mammals in the world. Hence, they need to eat and drink large amounts of food and water to maintain their body weight. So many of us might be wondering if they eat meat or not. Being strictly herbivores, they eat only plants and different vegetation available in their habitat. However, sometimes they might consume small insects that might come along with their plants. Usually, they feed on tree bark, twigs, roots, leaves, and fruits.

Would an elephant eat another animal?

No, elephants will not eat other animals. Elephants are herbivores which means they only eat a wide variety of vegetation. Herbivorous animals won’t kill any animals to get their required nutrition.

Carnivore diet

Carnivores are animals that feed on meat. But elephants don’t eat meat; hence, they can’t be called carnivores.

Carnivorous animals hunt down their prey for food, whereas some carnivore species would scavenge on the leftover meat of animals that hunters kill. So an elephant can’t be called a predator or carnivore.

The physical structure of a predatory animal is that it can effectively hunt down its prey. These physical structures usually have sharp claws to grip the prey and sharp teeth to kill the animal and tear off its flesh. When it comes to elephants, their physical structure is entirely different. They have massive bodies, and their feet don’t come with claws. Neither have sharp teeth; instead, they are more rounded and flat to quickly grind down anything they consume.

Recommended Read: How Many Teeth Do Elephants have?

Browsers and Grazers

Elephants are known to be both browsers and grazers. So different types of vegetation form a part of their diet. For instance, African elephants are browsers and love to eat leaves, flowers, fruits, tree bark, twigs, and even grasses. Tree bark is a favourite food for elephants. On the other hand, Asian elephants are grazers, consume similar plants, and love to eat bamboo.

So, the elephants’ diet is slightly different depending on the elephant species and their living habitat.

Recommended Read: Differences Between Asian Elephants and African Elephants

The Word Herbivore Definition

The word ‘herbivore’ comes from the Latin word herbivore. In Latin, herba signifies “a small herb or a plant”, whereas vora means “to eat”. Thus, herbivore animals are those who eat different kinds of vegetation.

With time, elephants have gradually evolved, and they eat various plants, shrubs, bushes, tree bark, and twigs based on the food available in their area. They even feed on nuts, seeds, and fruits if leaves, twigs, or tree bark is unavailable.

The term vegan can’t be applied to elephants simply because their diet is entirely plant-based. Elephants that eat a plant-based diet do so by choice, but it is their default option.

Elephants Diet

When living in the wild, these massive creatures consume different plants. The plants vary based on their living habitat. For example, the elephants of the Savannah consume grass and weeds. Similarly, Asian elephants fed on various trees, grasses, twigs, roots, and sometimes even thorny bushes. On the other hand, African elephants generally consume tree leaves, tree bark, tree roots, and shrubs.

Are elephants picky eaters?

Elephants can be called picky eaters, but they don’t fuss about anything they get to eat. They love to consume different fruits and vegetables, like carrots or lemons. However, their food choice might not be included in their diet, especially in captivity. Instead, captive elephants are given pellets, hay, and specific fruits and veggies.

Do elephants eat meat in zoos?

The elephants’ diet in the zoo is not a form of meat. It is different from the elephants living in the wild. Elephants living in the zoo are given a strict daily diet. Usually, they are fed based on their body-mass index and biological functioning. The elephants living in the zoo are generally provided with pellets, hay, celery, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, apples, bananas, and grass. At the same time, they love to browse through the shrubs and trees of the zoo. Did you know that elephants aren’t given peanuts? Contrary to popular belief, peanuts are not a good food choice for elephants.

Why don’t elephants eat meat?

Elephants won’t eat meat as their diet is entirely plant-based. They won’t even eat animal meat or even insects on purpose. Even if an insect is found in their digestive system, it has gone inside through the plants or the tree bark they have consumed. Their body is adapted to a plant-based diet only. It won’t be wrong to say that their diet is pre-defined by nature. Hence, they won’t even stray from their diet.

How much time does an elephant spend eating?

An elephant’s amount of food greatly depends on its living habitat. An elephant spends around 12 to 18 hours of the day fulfilling its nutritional requirements.

Final Words

Elephants are herbivores, meaning they will not eat any meat. Instead, they eat vegetation.




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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.