Elephants eat between 149 and 169 kg (330-375 lb.) of vegetation daily.
Sixteen to eighteen hours, or nearly 80% of an elephant’s day is spent feeding. Elephants consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots.
Tree bark is a favorite food source for elephants. It contains calcium and roughage, which aids digestion. Tusks are used to carve into the trunk and tear off strips of bark.
Elephants require about 68.4 to 98.8 L (18 to 26 gal.) of water daily, but may consume up to 152 L (40 gal.). An adult male elephant can drink up to 212 L (55 gal.) of water in less than five minutes.
To supplement the diet, elephants will dig up earth to obtain salt and minerals. The tusks are used to churn the ground. The elephant then places dislodged pieces of soil into its mouth, to obtain nutrients. Frequently these areas result in holes that are several feet deep and vital minerals are made accessible to other animals. Ex: Over time, African elephants have hollowed out deep caverns in a volcano mountainside on the Ugandan border, to obtain salt licks and minerals. Hills have been carved by Asian elephants in India and Sumatra searching for salt and minerals. These carved areas in the landscape provide valuable food and shelter resources for a diverse array of native wildlife.