How Do Elephants Mate?

How Do Elephants Mate?


Elephants are the second largest mammals worldwide, second to the blue whale. Elephants, like most mammals, give birth to their young alive and not in eggs. However, you might not exactly know how these animals mate. Do elephants mate for life? Can they mate on a whim, and what factors affect their mating process? There are a lot of unknowns concerning these heavy animals, especially given their size. It is easier to imagine lighter animals like dogs copulating, but elephants are gigantic, reaching over 10,000 pounds.


There are myths that male elephants nibble on the female’s ear to induce pregnancy. This article reveals the science behind mating between elephants, displacing the myths and rumors.    


How Do Elephants Mate?


Mating in elephants often occurs during the female heat cycle. Males need experience, size, and strength to mount females. The experience part is important as the male must know where to put his long curved penis into the female reproductive tract, which is also long and curved.


After fighting off the competition, the male might still have to chase the female around before she is caught. The female remains standing while the male mounts her, standing almost vertically, holding her in place with his weight and forelimbs as he penetrates her reproductive tract. Younger elephants can be pushed off by females quite easily.


Some reports claim that elephant sex often lasts about two minutes, after which the male stays by the female’s side for a while before leaving. According to news reports, females allow larger and older elephants to mate with them for different reasons, such as a higher probability of gestation success and protection from other males. Also, bigger males might have stronger genes that can be passed on to the offspring.



Elephants do not mate for life and are not bound to one another. A female might sometimes mate with another bull during their heat cycle, and a male can also mate with multiple females in a herd.

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