Elephants live in small family groups led by old females (cows) where there is plenty of food, groups come together. Most males (bulls) live in individual herds, apart from cows, both males and females have two glands, between their eyes. Elephants of all ages and genders secrete a fluid temporin.
When a male, enters a “musth period”, their testosterone level is higher than that of an elephant without musth, and the animal’s behavior is unpredictable; they are uncontrollable (musth means intoxicated in Hindi). Musth is the time to establish the reproductive hierarchy, which may differ from the usual social hierarchy in that a male in Musth outnumbers the males in Non-Musth.
Elephants can detect the reproductive status of others based on their keen sense of smell. Chemical information is detected through the trunk, blown into the roof of the mouth, and then captured by the Jacobson organ on the upper palate of the mouth. Once the information is collected it reaches the Jacobson organ, which is located on the roof of the mouth. This organ transports the molecules to the brain for analysis.
When a female is in heat or a male is in musth, an elephant can recognize hormones in the air or detect them through urine and feces.
African elephants reach sexual maturity at 10-12 years of age, while Asian elephants reach sexual maturity at around 14 years of age. During this time, the males leave their birth herd (herd of origin) to live alone or in small herds with other males, while the females stay with their birth herd for their entire lives.
Successive pairings take place briefly from a few hours to four days. Males usually stay with the female after mating to prevent them from mating with other males.
The fertilized egg is still just a spark, but the mix of male and female genes it contains will be the blueprint for building a new and unique baby elephant.
Elephant gestation is the longest of all mammals (18 to 22 months). The newborn elephant is about three feet tall and weighs about 100 kg (220 pounds).