The trunk is elongated and the distal end curled and flattened, or pressed, sideways on the ground. The elephant repeatedly opens and squeezes-closed the distal curl of the trunk to grasp and, with a sharp little twist, to rip off short green blades of grass. This pattern is repeated until the trunk curl has collected enough grass to place in the mouth, or until further squeezes would lead to blades of grass being dropped. This is a technique that is seen early in the rainy season when elephants are eager to feed on new shoots of grass that are not yet long enough for the more typical techniques such as Rip-Grass, Slice-Grass or Grasp-Kick-Grass. This is a technique that must be learned and older elephants are more proficient than younger elephants. 

References: Poole & Granli 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Foraging & Comfort Technique


Context: Foraging & Comfort Technique (1)

Two elephants demonstrate the technique used to extract fresh, short, green grass - curling the trunk, pressed against the ground and squeezing it to rip the short green grass. This is done several times (3-5) as the trunk moves along the ground before collecting it in a section of trunk and transferring it to the mouth. The younger 4 year old elephant is still learning the technique and is less proficient - notice that he only does one or two scrunches before transferring to his mouth. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)