How Much Does an Elephant Eat Per Day?
Elephants are herbivores (plant eaters), but they cannot digest cellulose, the substance that makes up much plant matter. They spend about three-quarters of their time, day and night, selecting, picking, preparing and eating food. An adult elephant in the wild will eat in the region of 100 to 200 Kg (220 to 440 lb.) of vegetation per day depending on the habitat and the size of the elephant.
The number of plant species eaten by any one elephant may vary but it is likely to be more than fifty. About 30-60 per cent of elephant diet is grass, if it is available. Like humans and apes, an elephant’s choice of food-plants will be determined partly by what grows locally, partly by what was learned from its mother, and partly by what it has discovered by trying novel food items.
Elephants also select their meals taking into account the time it takes to prepare each mouthful. Eating long grass is probably the easiest and quickest way for an elephant to fill up! On the other hand, one of the most time-consuming food-items for elephants to prepare is bark. With larger trees, the elephant drives a tusk between the bark and the sapwood and then yanks a strip off the tree with its trunk. The soft wood of some trees such as the baobab is also eaten. Such tusking sometimes destroys the whole tree.