Elephant Beetle – Species Profile & Facts

It takes a special, unique personality to find beauty where others see ugliness. Yes, I’m looking at you, beetle lover. Most people get cats or dogs for pets, but not you. You see something special in beetles, and the Elephant beetle captures that uniqueness perfectly.

Today’s article aims to teach you the essentials about this beetle species. This includes environmental needs, the ideal habitat, reproductive behavior, and other details that you can use to care for your beetle population.

Elephant Beetle Natural Habitat

The Elephant beetle is endemic to rainforests and tropical forests across Southern Mexico, Venezuela, and surrounding countries. This goes to say that this species of beetle prefers warm and humid environments with plenty of vegetation and moist soil.

They also love a rich forest substrate with dead matter, leaves, fruits, and a lot of trees to get sap from. This type of environment is ideal for the Elephant beetle, allowing them to find plenty of food, comfort, and cover during colder mornings.

Elephant Beetle Characteristics

The Elephant beetle lets its name do the presentations. Knowing its physical characteristics is essential, seeing as this beetle is part of a larger family called the Scarabaeidae with several subfamily branches containing thousands of different individuals. This can obviously lead to confusion, and you don’t want that if you’re looking to get a genuine Elephant beetle.

Here are the core factors that differentiate the Elephant beetle from its cousins and close or distant relatives:

– Appearance

The Elephant beetle could easily fit in a dinosaur-only population 100 million years ago if it were a bit bigger, obviously. Its physical appearance reminds of a Triceratops with its distinct head horn sticking out. The beetle has different uses for that majestic horn, including:

  • Digging in the ground when looking to find shelter from a colder weather
  • Look for dead fruits or rotten vegetation
  • Remove tree bark to get access to the delicious sap underneath
  • Fight with other males during the reproductive season
  • Fend off attackers that would try to hunt and consume the beetle

The beetle is black, but there are noticeable differences between the male and the female. The female is smaller with a dark black body, while the male is larger and appears more yellowish to brown. That’s because the male’s body is covered with a thick layer of microscopic hairs, changing the male’s appearance. This generally makes it easier to distinguish between the genders in case you prefer one over the other.

– Size & Growth

The Elephant beetle can grow to massive proportions. A brute, adult, powerful male can cover your entire hand if you hold it. The beetle can vary in size between 2.75 inches to 5.90 in rarer cases when the beetle has had ideal environmental conditions and was safe from natural predators.

The male will usually grow up to 2 or 3 times larger than the female. They will use their superior stature and strength to fight off other males, protect their territory, and impress the female during the mating season. If you want a huge beetle, this species is ideal for you.

– Temperament

Compared to other insects that many people have as pets, like some species of Mantids, beetles are sweethearts. They don’t get scared easily, don’t mind being manhandled, and are generally peaceful, minding their own business. It is the ideal insect to get if you dislike jittery and highly energetic specimens that also tend to be aggressive occasionally.

So long as you are not an Elephant beetle yourself, creating competition for your beetle, you have nothing to worry about. The beetle’s docile temperament is why insect breeders around the world appreciate this species so much.

– Defense

The Elephant beetle can become quite territorial and engage in combat with intruders, especially with members of his own species. The male beetles will also become more aggressive and confrontational during the mating season. During this time, a more volatile temperament generally comes with more benefits than downsides.

Otherwise, the beetle will avoid confrontations as much as possible. You will often see your beetle trying to dig holes in the substrate or soil to hide. This is why you must consider a sandy substrate to their terrarium, allowing them to hide whenever feeling threatened or uncomfortable.

– Life Cycle

This is where things get interesting. The female beetle will lay the eggs underground, safe from predators and the colder night temperatures. The larvae will consume the eggshells during the first phases, after which it will feed on the substrate surrounding it.

Its growth cycle is actually impressive, as the larvae will undergo several molting processes to grow its head. The body is soft and squishy and will grow naturally, without any molting necessary.

These growing phases will last weeks or months, with the entire process lasting around 29 months. That’s how long it takes for the larvae to reach adult status. Furthermore, the adult stage will only last several months, during which the beetle, whether male or female, will look to mate and give birth to the next generation of larvae.

You could say that for the majority of its life, the beetle is in larvae form, and it’s a shame knowing how majestic the creature is in the adult stage. The larvae, however, can also grow to impressive proportions, especially as they near their final growth cycles.

Elephant Beetle Care

So, you now know the basics about the Elephant beetle, but how do you care for one? Overall, there are several things regarding this insect that are unique to this species. These include:

– Diet & Nutrition

The Elephant beetle’s nutrition varies only slightly. The beetle is generally pretty voracious, with its food consisting of mainly dead and rotting matter.

This is especially true during the larvae phase, when the larvae consume roots, dead leaves, and rotten tree bark. As they grow, larvae can consume approximately 3 pounds of rotten matter over the 29 months before it reaches adulthood.

That is a lot of food that you will need to provide your larvae with. The good thing is that it’s not pretentious. You can feed your larvae lychee, pineapples, tree bark, etc. It also helps to have your larvae in a vegetation-rich environment, which will already provide it with plenty of food sources, to begin with.

You should also avoid disturbing the substrate or removing the vegetation around for any reason. This will not only destroy the habitat but can kill the larvae in the process as well.

– Housing

This is where the situation gets a bit more specific, as the answer depends on several factors. These include how many larvae you intend to have, the available space, the reason for breeding the larvae (if you’re breeding them as part of a business, you may need more room, etc.)

Generally, the soil should be at least 6 to 8 inches deep, allowing the larvae to dig their way into the substrate. Some can go deeper than you expect, so it’s better to play it safe and go for a plus of soil thickness.

Each larva should have at least 4-5 inches in all directions to play with as a general rule. You should also ensure an above-average humidity level, which may require you to spray the enclosure occasionally to prevent dryness.

Food-wise, the situation is as simple as it gets. Just make sure that your larvae have plenty of tree bark, sap whenever possible, and decaying fruits and leaves that they can consume throughout the year. This will allow the larvae to grow at a consistent rate.

The temperature should revolve around 65 to 77 °F, which is the golden value for Elephant beetle larvae throughout the year. Too high or too low, and your larvae will suffer accordingly.

As a final note on this point – some larvae tend to grow cannibalistic, which means housing multiple larvae in a tighter space is unwise. Give them some extra space to minimize the chances of them meeting and unleashing their tiny, underground larvae war that no one will know about.

– Environment

The environment should consider several critical factors, some of which I have already mentioned above. These include:

  • The substrate – The substrate should be thick, moist with some extra notes on occasion, nutritious, and well oxygenated. Please note that the larvae will consume the dead matter in the soil primarily. The more nutritious it is, the faster the larvae will grow. Optimal air circulation is also necessary to prevent ammonia build-up, turning the environment toxic and deadly.
  • The temperature – While the temperature doesn’t require too many tweaks, you should see that it remains within the standard charts. A minimum of 65 F is enough not to slow down the larvae’s metabolism, while a maximum of 77 F is just shy of thermal discomfort.
  • Humidity – The Elephant beetle larvae doesn’t need excessive humidity, but, overall, more is better than not enough. Since the Elephant beetle comes from tropical forests, it prefers more humid habitats with moist soil, where the larvae can thrive.
  • Enough food – Provide your larvae with sufficient food throughout the year. Don’t worry about the food rotting due to the larvae not consuming it fast enough. That’s exactly what your larvae are hoping for. Since the larvae can consume tree bark, leaves, fruits, and sap, make sure to provide the enclosure with access to all these food sources. Compared to other insects, overfeeding is not an issue with the Elephant beetle larvae.

– Health Problems

So long as the temperature is optimal and the humidity remains in the charts, you have nothing to worry about. The larvae are not known to develop health issues out of the blue. Just give it plenty of food throughout the year and provide optimal environmental conditions, and there should be no problems.


The reproduction cycle will last for approximately two years, generally more. The beetle will spend most of this time in the larvae phase, which means there is little you can do along the way. Your only role will boil down to ensuring the best environmental conditions for the larvae to grow and mature.

After the metamorphosis process is complete and you get the adult beetle, you can make plans for reproduction, seeing as their remaining time is limited.


Beetles are generally easy to care for, and the Elephant beetle is no exception. I know you have extra questions even after reading this article since this subject is rich, with many poorly explored areas.

I am available for contact in the comment section below or via the contact form on the website if you need additional clarifications.

Beetles   Updated: October 8, 2021
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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