Marie, Harrogate asked:
My question is about Tasers; the Tasers they use for crowd control. What would happen if you Tasered an elephant? Would you live to tell the tale? How strong are these things?
We put this to a real elephant catcher in Africa, Don Grobbler, standing on the top of a sand dune in the wilds of Mozambique when he gave this answer:
Elephants do not like any electric shocks and they will usually react quite severely to them. We use electric fencing in a number of wildlife reserves in Africa. The electric fencing running around an enclosure is generally in the region of 9000 to 12,000 volts, whereas a stun gun will put out about 50,000 volts. Elephants are taught about an electric shock by putting it in a small pen that’s about two acres in size for about 24 to 48 hours. When they’ve been in contact with an electric fence in that situation, they will never touch an electric fence again. We also use electric prodders to move elephants into a truck to transport them. A taser certainly wouldn’t floor an elephant but it might scare it. And in most cases, the elephant would try to move away from a stun gun but I wouldn’t want to be there if the elephant decided to take some revenge.
I think if you tasered an elephant with a normal human taser gun, he would feel a slight tingling that would probably just annoy him at best.
not to mention getting chased by the zoo guard geo driver, Wed, 9th Dec 2009
Been done (1903) ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topsy_%28elephant%29
I wouldn't be surprised if this happened http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaNbNktAh0o
As I understand it tasers are not for crowd control, they shoot barbed projectile electrodes. The very high AC voltage at minimal current interacts with and overwhelms the nervous system incapacitating the victim. This leads to extensive loss of motor control, for as long as the voltage is applied - controlled by a trigger on the handset. If the electrodes could penetrate the skin of an elephant I would expect a similar reaction, i.e. applied for long enough it would fall over.
No idea. However, I would have thought that it is the current that is the issue not the voltage as usual?
Tasers work by passing electricity between two electrodes that pierce the skin. This disrupts nerve and muscle activity, leading to temporary stunning. In practical terms, contact between each electrode and the salty extracellular fluid within the tissue enables a current to flow, depolarising nerve and muscle cell membranes to produce pain and collapse.
This explanation sounds entirely convincing, and much more plausible than anything I could have dreamt of. The next question is obviously whether anyone has measured the thickness of the dermis of the skin, and whether this answer is different for African or Indian elephants. I don't suggest this, however, for next week's QOTW. Take care and bye for now. Shibs, Fri, 11th Dec 2009
I know of a Rhino that accidentally walked though an electric fence ( not the common cattle kind, but one designed to kill you, not just warn) and was none the worse for it, aside from a very much worsened mood from the shock. He was herded out and made another similar sized hole on the way out.
But my point was that Tasers work by deploying electrodes that embed themselves into the skin in order to make contant. I suspect that most of an elephant's hide will be too think for a Taser electrode to penetrate, although I have no objective data...! chris, Tue, 15th Dec 2009
I think if you were dumb enough to taser an elephant you could only do it if you got close enough to get the inside of it's mouth, and then either it would fall on top of you, and squash you like a turd, or get annoyed and do the same thing. But in my opinion if you did do it,it would have to be in the mouth as it would have the most possibility of effect.(conductivity regarding moisture in that area.. krane aust, Thu, 31st Dec 2009
Using a standard police tazer against an elephant would have no effect. First,their skin is WAY too thick. Second, if you adjusted the tazer barb to somehow penetrate the skin, the energy released would be insufficient to disrupt their large nervous system.