Why Do Elephants Eat Other Elephants Poop?

February 15, 2024

You may have seen a cute little elephant in your local zoo munching on some bread, but it’s best not to feed them without permission because an elephant is on a very strict diet. In the wild, they are herbivores and eat leaves, twigs, bark, roots, fruits, flowers and even trees! In captivity, they are given a variety of food like different fruits, hay pellets and vegetables. They also browse through shrubs and trees available in their enclosure.

Sixteen to eighteen hours of their day is spent feeding! It is because of this that they have such a mighty appetite. Unlike cows and other mammals, elephants don’t chew or ruminate their food and only partially digest it. This means their dung contains undigested plant matter and provides an excellent source of nutrition. Dung is also a valuable resource because it provides an important home for creatures such as flies, ants and dung beetles which are found in abundance in Africa. Dung beetles roll up poop and eat it as well as lay their eggs inside.

The dung is also a great way for them to obtain healthy bacteria which helps them to digest the plants they eat. Baby elephants are especially reliant on this as they transition from drinking milk to eating solid foods. This is why you will see them munching on their mothers dung at a young age. This behaviour is known as coprophagia and is very normal for these young animals.

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