Are Elephants Really Afraid of Mice?

Elephants are the largest living land animal, and they have no reason to fear mice.

elephant in tanzania

In fact, elephants do not fear mice. A healthy elephant does not fear any animals. Danger comes only from man and, when elephants are in the wild, from natural disasters such as drought or fire.

Why then is it commonly believed that elephants are afraid of mice? Maybe because someone thought that a mouse might get into the elephant’s trunk and either hurt or suffocate the large animal.

Mice are often found in the stalls of captive elephants.

Since elephants have such an excellent sense of smell, they know that the mice are there, but they simply pay no attention to the small creatures.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

11 thoughts on “Are Elephants Really Afraid of Mice?”

  1. Mythbusters recently tested this on their show. They said plausible…honestly, I didn’t see fear from the elephants, but simply respect for another living creature – why would an animal trample over a much smaller animal on purpose?

  2. Does such a respect actually exist generally? Or are mice simply quick and don’t get stepped on?

    Personally, I try not to kill anything unless I have too.

  3. they would step on it because elephant are mean… they hurt other animal all of time for none reason. I think that elephant was afraid. Or else the mouse would be step on it.

  4. I think rather than fearing the mice, elephants do not want to step on them & it is difficult for them to see mice because of their size. I first theorized this when I went to a circus many years ago & watched a poor elephant trying to perform and not step in a pile of dung that another elephant had made. This is just my opinion, but who wants to step on a mouse? Or in dung?

  5. I have been reading these comments and not that i have actual book knowledge or education on this matter so im in the same position as all of you yet I do have enough common sense to understand all of this completely. What I am trying to say is that the reason u people dont know the answer is not because of lack of reading, its a lack of common sense, essentially you people are idiots (most of you) and you dont think or use ur brain. The reason the elephants are scared is no different than why people are scared. The reason they get scared of mice is not that they are afraid of the actual animal, its what the animal does. Elephants, like any other animal including humans, are scared of any quick movements or loud sounds in their environment whose source they cannot detect (basically not understanding whats going on around you can scare u because it could mean a potential threat) its like walking down a dark hallway at night and seeing some object rushing across out of the corner of ur eyes as it makes some sudden high pitched sound, basically elephants are not scared of the actual mouse itself, but the fact that the mouse appearing out of nowhere and dashing across and then just disappearing again while squeaking loudly will SURPRISE the elephant, not scare it, its not like elephants are constantly afraid of the actual animal, they dont have some built in fear of mice, they are afraid of what the animal does which is pop out of nowhere and start squeaking and whizzing across and surprising the poor creature. That will shock the elephant, then the elephant will actually recover from the shock and eventually see the mouse, see that its just a little furry thing, and then since it doesnt want to step on it because elephants tend to be fairly docile depending on the individual, will respect the animals territory and move out of the way, mainly because it doesnt find the need to step on it either. Elephants are very intellectual creatures which is why there are many parallels between their personalities and ours sometimes. I mean most humans arent even afraid of mice, just surprised by them if they pop outta nowhere. Now dont get me wrong that doesnt necessarily mean now that elephants arent scared of mice because they are so much bigger, it could be just that elephants and mice probably naturally never encountered each other so the elephants didnt evolve a fear of them. Just cuz someone is bigger than something doesnt mean they cant be afraid of them, how many of you or how many people out there do you think are afraid of bugs, mainly SPIDERS. See what I mean you actually use that kind of logic its retarded,

  6. Seriously? You think elephants hurt other animals for no reason? They’re the big bad bullies of the savanna? They’re herbivores! Plant-eaters! They do not harm any living thing unless necessary. They mourn their dead. They inspect the bones of other passed elephants…As ignorant as you sound, I’m sure you could learn a lot from such a compassionate and magestic creature.

  7. The story of the elephant and the mouse are Hindu in origin in correlation with the elephant headed god, Ganesha and his mount, which is either a mouse or a rat. In statues, idols and paintings, He is always shown dancing upon the back of a rodent or riding it like a vehicle.

  8. I have no reliable evidence that we know the answer to this question. My evidence from this web site is that few people understand what science is and in what ways scientific methodology can attempt to provide an answer. Logic can perhaps provide answers to mathematical problems,but science is needed to approach an answer to the nature of both man and beast.

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