Sucking on own trunk. Appears to be done when unsure, apparently for comfort. Infants and calves are typically observed exhibiting this display, but older elephants may also be observed to Trunk-Suck.

References: Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Ambivalent, Attentive, Foraging & Comfort Technique, Lone & Object Play, Social Play, Vigilance


Context: Ambivalent (1)

We are with the C family: gf0080's 2013 infant is with allomothers who are feeding. Something happens that we can't see and the infant becomes alarmed and starts to move, first toward mother and then back to allomothers, while it Touches-Self and Trunk-Sucks. The camera pans out and we see gf0080 Standing-Tall facing the camera. She seems to be on her way to retrieve her infant. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Ambivalent (2)

Vigilante (one tusked female) has been trying to Initiate-Movement with a Purposeful-Walk past the others - but, though some follow her, Valda (big tuskless matriarch) is not ready. So she and the others Wait.

A young male stands at the front of the group worrying a wounded lip with the tip of his trunk and using an interesting technique to eat grass - apparently biting off the soil before eating the clump. Then he stands Trunk-Sucking. Vigilante meanwhile continues to be vigilant looking in our direction and adopting Periscope-Trunk. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Ambivalent (3)

An 18 month old male calf has been left behind and hurries to catch up with his family. As he nears his mother he begins Trunk-Sucking perhaps as a comfort behavior. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalent (4)

Little E is only 4 days old. Allomother Lorato has defecated. Little E is interested. Mama Little E touches his genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals)and his anus, holds his tail and then Trunk-to-Genitals again three times. Little E then begins to Comfort-Suckle from allomother Lorato who adopts a Suckle-Stance. He stops and Mama Little E comes over and touch him under his mouth (Trunk-to-Mouth) and then along and up his trunk as she turns slightly away from allomother Lorato - Guiding him away from Lorato and toward her. He turns toward her.

As this is taking place, Lorato engages in a series of Ambivalent behaviors - Touch-Face, Trunk-Sucking and then steps forward and begins Displacement-Grooming - Dusting but not really. Mama Little E walks on behind Lorato also Trunk-Sucking and Little E goes in front of her. As he passes by Lorato touches his genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals). (Maasai Mara, Kenya)