Elephants may look like they are having a lot of fun rolling around in the mud, they probably are, but it also serves a critical purpose for them. As they have minimal hair and sweat glands, they find it difficult to cool off under the harsh African sun. The mud not only cools them down and provides a protective layer on their body to shield them from insect bites and the sun. Their skin looks very tough, but it is very sensitive, and can get sunburnt!
Elephants prepare the mud for their baths in two ways. One is to kick their foot in the water to stir up the mud and mix it with the water; the other is to churn the mud with their tusks or trunk up from the bottom when bathing elephants will either roll around in the mud or spray themselves with it using their trunk.
Interesting Facts about Elephant Skin
- Elephant skin is generally around 4 cm thick and thinnest behind the ears.
- An elephant’s stomach area needs extra support to hold the weight of its organs. The animals have a fibroelastic-like sheet of muscles that span their stomach area.
- The thick but sparse hair on an elephant’s body helps it to keep cool.
- Elephants also take dust baths and mud baths to cool down their bodies.
- To cool down, even more, elephants will spray mud or water behind their ears. This allows the circulating blood to cool down faster as an elephant can pump all its blood through its ears every 20 minutes.
- The skin colour of an elephant will change depending on the colour of the mud and sand used on their bodies.
- Elephant skin has no sweat glands.