More about mammoths : Behavior

How Did Mother Mammoths Take Care of Their Young?

Mother mammoths fed their babies with milk, just like elephants. After a few months, the baby mammoth started to eat plant material, but it wasn't until the mammoth was two or three years old that it stopped nursing.

The baby mammoths stayed close to their moms until they were teenagers. The moms protected them from danger and from other animals. If a mammoth’s mom died, one of the other mammoths in the group would adopt the young mammoth.

How do we know?

milk tooth

tusk growth rings

A milk tooth from a young mammoth (top picture) and a tusk cross-section showing growth rings (bottom picture).

Scientists have observed this behavior in elephants, a close relative of the mammoths. They also have looked at the growth rings in tusks of baby mammoths. By looking at the chemicals in each ring, they can tell when the baby mammoth switched from a milk diet to a plant diet.

<< Back to More about mammoths.