Recently I came across a viral video of a baby elephant eating a watermelon. Undoubtedly, the video was quite adorable, but at the same time, it got me wondering how elephants can eat watermelons.
Elephants are non-ruminant herbivores, which means they do not chew the cud. So how do they manage to digest a watermelon with its skin and all?
I talked to a friend who works with elephants in the local zoo and asked the question do elephants eat watermelon?
Elephants do eat watermelon but they use their feet to crush the fruit while their trunks will bring the pieces to their mouth. The high water content and sweet taste of the rich, succulent flesh in watermelons make it an ideal food to satiate an elephant’s hunger and thirst.
Do elephants eat watermelons in the wild?
Elephants don’t go searching for watermelon but they will eat it whenever they find any.
Watermelons grow in tropical regions where the temperature is higher than 25 °C. But the fruit usually remains well-hidden beneath the leaves.
But elephants, with their strong sense of smell, can quickly identify the location of a ripe watermelon.
So, if the creature can find a watermelon in the wild, it will consume it. However, elephants do not go looking for fruit.
Can baby elephants eat watermelon?
Baby elephants can eat watermelon but it would be best for them to do so with slices of the fruit.
The viral video that I saw proved beyond any doubt that baby elephants can eat watermelon.
But when I asked my friend who works with elephants in the local zoo, she said baby elephants must be introduced to watermelons.
They will not take to watermelons if you give the fruit whole. Instead, the baby elephant will play with the fruit and smash it!
But if you give the baby elephant slices of watermelon, the creature will develop a liking for the fruit and learn how to eat it.
What should you remember when you give elephants watermelons?
In most cases, elephants use their trunks to crush their food before eating it. Whenever the fruit is too hard to break using their trunks, they will sometimes use their feet to do it.
Hence, it is necessary to ensure that the food you give is entirely organic and there is no trace of pesticide in the watermelon.
Consider purchasing organic and pesticide-free watermelons if you’re visiting an elephant sanctuary and plan to give them to the elephants.
Do you need to cut the watermelon before giving it to the elephant?
There is no need to cut the watermelon before giving it to an adult elephant. The creature can place a reasonably large watermelon in its mouth. The strong jaws of the elephant can crush a watermelon.
The skin of watermelon is also nutritious, and the elephant can consume it whole. But a baby elephant will need the watermelon sliced before it can consume.
When are watermelons given to elephants?
Elephants living in zoos or unique sanctuaries in tropical regions are often given watermelons to beat the heat.
In places like India, where drought-like conditions can cause severe water crises, fruits like watermelons can be a boon to the elephants.
You will often find that elephants in zoos and sanctuaries in these regions are often given watermelons during summer because the high-water content of the fruit can satiate the creature’s hunger and thirst.
How does an elephant digest a watermelon?
If the elephant finds that the watermelon is too big for its mouth, it will first crush it into sizeable chunks and then use its trunk to transfer the pieces into its mouth.
The digestive process begins in the mouth by chewing the pieces of watermelon.
After that, when the watermelon reaches the stomach, symbiotic bacterias breaks it down like other food making digestion possible.
The elephant is a non-ruminant herbivore, which means it does not chew the cud.
In this way, both the fruit’s rind and the watermelon get digested within the elephant’s stomach.
Are watermelons healthy for elephants?
Among the several fruits that are given to elephants that are bred in captivity, watermelons are one of the best because of their high mineral content.
It is necessary to reduce the stress levels of elephants bred in captivity in order to increase their well-being.
Stressed elephants can suffer from elevated blood pressure, and watermelons can help reduce blood pressure levels.
Citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelons, can help increase the nitric oxide level in their blood, expanding the blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
Is there any watermelon that elephants like in particular?
Elephants have a sweet tooth and enjoy eating fruits with higher sweet content.
If you are planning to take watermelons to an elephant sanctuary, then take the Sultan variety because this particular species of watermelon is sweeter than most others, and you can be assured that the elephants will love it.
Are watermelons usual food for elephants?
Watermelons are not the usual food for elephants. Instead, they eat a wide variety of grass, shrubs, and plants.
In the wild, elephants typically consume the foliage that is available in the season.
When bred in captivity, they are often given hay, grass, and various fruits and vegetables.
This helps them to build robust immune systems and bones. It also helps have strong digestive systems.
Elephants need a large amount of food to satiate their hunger.
Hence, it is often a good idea to give elephant watermelons as the fruit has high water content and can keep the creature feeling full for a more extended period.
Is it essential to keep the elephants bred in captivity under a strict diet?
When elephants are bred in captivity, it is essential to keep an eye on the food consumed by the creature.
When it comes to the calorie consumed by an elephant, it mustn’t exceed the amount allotted for the creature by the veterinarian.
The primary reason is that the creature’s movement is restricted in a zoo; hence, an excess calorie is not healthy for the elephant.
The calorie value of watermelon is forty-six calories per cup which means you can give quite a large amount of the fruit to the elephant without crossing its allotted calorie quota.