In this fantasy novel I'm working on, the villain is from a very cold-climate planet and is planning an invasion of a much warmer planet. While most of his army is standard infantry and cavalry, he also depends on a number of war mammoths to break though enemy lines. The problem is, mammoths are extremely furry and filled with subcutaneous fat to keep them warm in freezing temperatures, and the planet they are invading is tropical in the north, desert and Mediterranean in the center, and temperate in the south. This would mean that most of his mammoths would die of heatstroke before they ever saw battle. How could he or anyone else prepare or adjust cold-climate war animals such as mammoths for the invasion of a warm area so this doesn't happen?

Some background:

  • These mammoths are fully domesticated so they don't freak out in the middle of battle like real-life war elephants.

  • Space travel is done via magic rather than technology in this universe, but for complex reasons I have no time to explain, the magic system wouldn't be of any help here. The technology of both parties involved in this invasion is pretty much medieval.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What does freaking out have to do with domestication? An animal gets scared regardless of being domesticated or wild, or not? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Dec 1 '20 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Shave them and breed them? Breeding them smaller would remove some of that square cube law for heat dissipation making it easier for them to remain cold, you can also try to breed them with less fat. Although I hope you have some years to spend on that. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Dec 1 '20 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ I never realized I'd like to see a shaved mammoth before! :D A wet towel over their back should keep them cool. $\endgroup$
    – EdvinW
    Dec 1 '20 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica imho "domestication" in this context means "battle training". $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Dec 1 '20 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @The Weasel Sagas the premise of the question is faulty. There were several species of mammoths, mastodons, and other preshistoric proboscideans at any one time, living in every region of Earth - with every climate on Earth - except for Australia, New Guinea, Antarctica, and other land masses too far from continents for elephants to swim to. Wooley mammoths were adapted to cold weather, other mammoths, including much larger and more fearsome species, and prehistoric proboscideans were adapted to warmer climates. $\endgroup$ Dec 1 '20 at 20:14

No problem

There is no problem with mammoths in mediterranean, temperate and (mild) tropical climates. Not all mammoths lived in the frozen tundra... In fact, as far as we know, they vastly preferred steppe to tundra, and in most of their range there was no long-term snow. They were elephants, and elephants need to eat a lot of grass. Continuously.

  • The Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) lived in what are now the contiguous United States, Mexico and southwards to Costa Rica.

  • And even the wooly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), usually associated with the northern steppe, lived on a wide range extending as far south as mediterranean Italy and Spain.


Ice packs and a white cape.

Mammoths are probably able to handle high temperatures for a short period of time, becuase:

  • They can still build up exercise induced heatstroke in the artic, so even the woolly mammoth would need some way to cool down after exertion.
  • They evolved from the steppe mammoth so may of kept some pre-artic abilities like sweating.
  • The fat and fur will act as insulation keeping the heat away from their core for a bit.

However if they are in the heat for many hours or longer they will need some help cooling. Stick some ice blocks in bags and wrap them around their harness to actively cool them, and put a thin white cape over their shoulders and back to keep them out of direct sunlight.

I'd also suggest attacking at night.


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