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Compiled by: Willem Schaftenaar


Colic can be defined as a symptom of pain  in the abdomen.

Elephants that suffer of colic can show a variety of symptoms,


  • Frequent looking at the abdomen.

  • Touching the abdomen with the trunk.

  • Hitting the abdomen with the trunk.

  • Throwing sand or water towards the abdomen.

  • Throwing sand or water over the backside.

  • Restlessness.

  • Vocalization.

  • Standing with open mouth.

  • Frequently going down and standing up.

  • Lifting a hind leg, supporting it on an object.

  • Kicking a hindleg in the direction of the abdoemn.

  • Bilateral bending the hind legs.

  • Straining.

Additional symptoms that may occur simultaneously: increased respiratory rate, increased heart beat, bloating.

Causes of colic

Gastro-intestinal tract:

  • The most frequent cause of colics in elephans is sand impaction.

  • Enteritis, gut spasms and tympany can also cause colics.

  • Peritonitis.

  • Torsio mesentericum.

Abdominal organs:

Although not reported in elephants, all abnormal conditions in abdominal organs can cause colics (inflammation, abscess, tumor.

The elephant has no gall bladder, but gall stones stuck in the biliary ducts might result in colic.

Reproductive tract:

Normal parturition.

Abnormal parturition.

Herniation of the uterus.

Urinary tract:

Calculi in the urethra.

Herniation of the urinary bladder.

Bladder stones.


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Diagnostic results

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