The Elelphant Problem

(Ian Green) #1

On an advertisement for the OMnipod, there is a picture of a baby elephant wearing a regular sized pump.

My question is based on the body mass and diet of an elephant, how much insulin would one need?

(Anonymous) #2

Quite a lot, Ian :)

(Anonymous) #3

To be more helpful, now:

An average (adult) elephant is 9,000-13,000 pounds. Taking the average, let's say 11,000 pounds.
And dividing my ratio, I use under .5 units of insulin per pound. Let's say Mr. Elephant uses .3 - just a round number.

So if the elephant was 11,000 pounds, Ian (and all else who wonder how much insulin elephants should be dialing) and used .3 units/pound, an adult elephant would use: 3,300 units of insulin a day, between basal and bolus on a pump. Someone else can figure out the Lantus/Novolog ratios :) Give or take what our elephant eats, activity level....

The average baby elephant is about 232 pounds. Using the same ratio, the baby elephant would use 69.6 units/day on a pump. Dang, I don't even use 50/day, but we're almost right up there with baby elephants!!!

Don't you love how I spend my Wednesday afternoons?
Think the elephants looking for a new endocrinologist??

Nice post, Ian :)

(Gina) #4


I would say by your calculations that would be a really good estimate of how much a baby elephant would require! hahah

(hcole) #5

But do elephants need a basal??  Do they eat carbs??? Haha!  I have no idea I thought they ate grass and stuff.

(Gina) #6

Oh True Heather! and peanuts! I guess we would have to calculate for fat.

(emocklin) #7

grass is carbs and people can eat it if stuck in the woods

(stilledlife) #8

mmm I love this post! very good work alyssa

so an elephant eats 300 and 500 pounds of vegetation a day! they eat tree foliage, bark, twigs, loose fruits, leaves, shoots, and tall grasses.

however I don't think that we would have to worry about boluses because an elephant spends 18 to 20 hours a day eating! I think that the basal rate will have to cover their food intake. but lets pretend that that isn't the case-

How much insulin would they bolus if they ate 6 meals a day with 70 lbs of food per meal?

(hcole) #9

[quote user="TED"]

grass is carbs and people can eat it if stuck in the woods


Wouldn't the grass be more like a vegetable though?  Insignificant amount of carbs?  Haha! 

(amyl1027) #10

     Do you really use 2 units of insulin per pound?  If I did that I would use 240 units of insulin per day.  Right now, I use between 35 to 50 units per day.

(Anonymous) #11

Alright, apparently my elephant endocrinology skills aren't so ta-dah. First off, I divided my math wrong :) Nice catch, Amy! I meant to post that personally I use <0.50 unit/pound, which makes more sense. I started pondering 2/lb today after your post, Amy, and it finally made it into my brain that that means a 100 lb person would use 200 units. Toooo funny, I don't even use 50! I've changed the numbers in my first post, in case anyone was wondering :)


Second, stilledlife, that depends on how many carbs are in the foods :) (and credit for the post goes to Ian, it was totally his idea -- I just picked up on his bored spectrum and threw around some numbers). And that elephant needs to be more strict if he wants to live a long, healthy life! His A1c?! Preposterous!!


And I must be getting in contact with him soon. If someone let's me know how many fruits he has a day, and the carb count in vegetation (lol - ask a health nut! I can't think of anyone myself, but I tried googling 'carbs in grass' and all I got was a bunch of sciencey spiels) I would be glad to pop up the calculator on my screen and entertain myself for the next hour :)

(Anonymous) #12

Ha ha, if you Google 'Omnipod Elephant,' our Juvenation conversation is the second one that comes up :)

(Dylan404) #13

Hmm, I think they will need a basal to cover their basal needs, but how they would bolus would be another question. Elephants are herbivores, so can break down the cellulose (fiber) in the grass and other plants they eat, meaning they get a lot more sugar out of than we would. That would be difficult carb counting! 

(Anonymous) #14

OK, this is hilarious. I think I may have worked this "elephant" into my subconscious or something, because apparently when I was low this morning and my Mom brought a glass of milk in, I said, "This elephant better thank me!"