A flaccid elephant penis is normally sheathed between the hind legs. As the penis starts to engorge it may partially extrude, still flaccid. A semi-erect penis is almost fully engorged and extrudes forward from the sheath and downward toward the ground. During a full-erection the tip of the penis twitches for several seconds, curving upward toward the belly, forming an S-shape. The term Penis-Erection refers to both semi- and full-erections.

When a non-musth male elephant urinates he fully extends his penis and usually, thereafter, obtains a semi-erection, which may lead to a full-erection. Males in musth typically Urinate with the penis still sheathed. Male infants and calves usually obtain erections when they Suckle, and both young and adult males sometimes obtain semi- and full-erections when they are engaged in Sparring activities, especially when these include Mounting.

References: Poole 1982: 49, 57, 108, 109, 133, 142; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Courtship, Maintenance, Social Play


Context: Maintenance (1)

A young male walks along with a semi-erection. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Maintenance (2)

Little E is 9 days old and is sleeping under the shade of mother and allomothers. They nudge him with a trunk and then a foot to wake him up and Lift him to a standing position. As they touch him under mouth and up in a standing position he opens his mouth wide and vocalizes.

There is no audio for this clip but based on what we see we think it is a High-Intensity-Husky-Cry. He stands for a bit waking up and attains a full Penis-Erection. They lead him away after the family. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Maintenance (3)

Little E is 4 days old. He is in the company of allomother Lorato who has just been fondling his penis. Her attentions seem to have caused him to have a Penis-Erection. She walks over and adopts her idiosyncratic behaviour Stand-Over-Bush again.

Little E stands behind her and then his back legs buckle as if he is going to achieve a full S-Shaped erection, but he just yawns. Mama Little E comes from behind as Little E buckles under a full Penis-Erection (and yawns again) and gives this female a Push. Mama Little E touches Little E's mouth and genitals. As they begin to move we can just see Little E get a full Penis-Erection. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)