Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Elephant Eats Mothers' Dung

Baby elephants eat poo. This is a normal part of their development and builds important cultures of symbiotic bacteria that live in their digestive tracts and aid in digestion. They aren't born with their own set of bacteria, so before they're ready to move on to eating solids they first must start their culture, usually by borrowing some microbes from their mother. In fact, their first solid meal is, in most cases, a mouthful of their mother's dung.

On the photo here you can see little Song Kran digging into a nice fresh one. He is still nursing from his mother Boon Jaan, and sometimes Mana as well. He'll likely start moving on to solids over the next year or two. This dung is just the start of a long and healthy relationship that Song Kran will have with his microbial friends.

To learn more about elephants' digestive systems, check out this site.