Inserting the trunk deep into the mouth cavity and down into the pharyngeal pouch, sucking water therein into the trunk and either swallowing it or blowing it onto the body for cooling. This behavior is more likely to be observed in habitats, or seasons, that are very hot. Typically an elephant uses this technique to cool its own body, but mothers have been sighted spraying the bodies of their calves.

In an area between the southern Selous Game Reserve and the Mozambique border in Tanzania, Donald Mpanduji watched as a mother elephant twice withdrew water from her pharyngeal pouch and then sprayed it over her infant. The mother elephant appears to have recognized that her infant was suffering from the heat and rather than use the water herself she showered the cooling water over her baby.

We have also observed elephants engage in sucking water from their pharyngeal pouch when they are engaged in lone play - in these cases they do not necessarily spray the water on themselves, but may engage in the behavior as they make a series of novel and idiosyncratic trunk sounds.

It is not known at what age this technique is acquired. We have only observed adolescents and adults engage in Pharyngeal-Pouch-Suck.

References: Shoshani 1997, Shoshani 1998, Poole & Granli 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Foraging & Comfort Technique, Lone & Object Play, Novel & Idiosyncratic