How Much Does an Elephant Eat?
Large animals need an abundance of food, and the elephant seems to eat all the time. A wild elephant may eat a quarter of a ton of forage a day – things such as grass, leaves, bark, and fruits. Tender leaves at the tops of trees are a favorite food. Elephants get these leaves by either knocking down the tree or pulling it up out of the ground.
Elephants have been accused of destroying whole forests to satisfy their huge appetites. In captivity, elephants do not eat as much. They are fed measured amounts of grain, hay and other vegetables.
Elephants are non-ruminant herbivores. They do not chew cud, ruminate or belch as ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, bison, goats, and deer) do. Instead they produce methane gas. Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day.
Elephants digest their food with less than 50% efficiency. The massive amount eaten coupled with an inefficient digestive system means lots of manure. An elephant defecates from 12 to 15 times a day, a daily quantity of 220 – 250 pounds. This adds up to a yearly quantity of over 85,000 pounds of manure, more than 40 tons, per adult elephant.