Elephants meeting in Heat - Elephants mating season

Elephants meeting in Heat - Elephants mating season


Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

As they reach sexual maturity, male bulls undergo a periodic transformation called musth in which their testosterone levels surge to 10 times their normal amount. This is characterized by aggressive behavior, enlarged temporal glands behind the eyes, and a continuous dribble of urine as they walk. The musth is intended to advertise the bull’s physical condition and shape, both to the females who may be looking for a mate and to the males who may be looking out for competitors. Males in musth are known to fight with each other, which rarely results in death. Females also release signals about their readiness to mate in various secretions. One male can have multiple female mates in his lifetime.

After mating, the female carries a single calf for about 22 months, longer than any other species of mammal. The baby is able to stand up and walk within an hour of its birth. However, it still requires the protection and care of the entire herd. If an adult senses danger, then it will make a loud trumpeting sound. The herd will then form a protective ring around the calves, facing outward to deter the predator. While the female herd may be doting caretakers, the father plays almost no role in the actual development of the offspring.

It takes a long time for a baby to master the nuances of elephant life. In the 13 to 20 years it takes to reach full maturity, these animals need to develop their coordination, learn social nuances, and develop bonds. It’s been suggested that a poorly-reared elephant may exhibit some anti-social behavior. Meanwhile, it takes a full five or six years before the baby is fully weaned from its mother’s milk. The calf packs on 2 to 3 pounds every day over the first year alone. Upon growing fully, the females tend to stay with the group, while the males tend to leave and forge their own path in life. They can easily live in excess of 50 years in the wild.

The oldest elephant to ever live reached 88 or 89 years old and lived in captivity in India. Indian elephants tend to live longer than their African counterparts.

Elephants meeting in Heat - Elephants mating season

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