There was a time when elephants had small noses. It was shorter than their tusks, fitting right in between them.

One year, it did not rain at all. This resulted in a severe drought. Animals were forced to walk miles in search of water.

Snehu was an elephant, who, just like his forest co-inhabitants, was looking for water. He finally came across a river after walking non-stop for days. Overjoyed with his discovery, he rushed toward the river to quench his thirst. Little did he know that the river was inhabited by a ferocious crocodile. No sooner did he bend down to drink the water than the crocodile jumped out of the river, lashing his tail at Snehu.Β  The crocodile then glared at Snehu. The savage beast warned the elephant to never dare to return to the river, for it belonged to him. Scared, Snehu fled from the river bank.

The river was also inhabited by a naughty toad. The toad enjoyed irritating the crocodile. In fact, it was often seen sitting on the crocodile’s nose. This generally agitated the crocodile, who would then make frantic attempts at getting rid of the annoying toad.

One afternoon, as the crocodile lay asleep on the river bank, Snehu decided to make the most of the opportunity to drink some water. He tiptoed over to the river and began gulping down water. As Snehu slaked his thirst, the toad jumped out of the water and landed on his favorite spot – the crocodile’s nose – waking up the beast. The first thing the enraged crocodile saw was the insolent elephant drinking water from his river.

Mad with rage, the crocodile caught hold of Snehu’s nose and began dragging him into the river. In this tug of water between the elephant and the crocodile, Snehu’s nose became longer and longer, until the crocodile had no option but to let go of it. Snehu fell back and, when he opened his eyes, he saw a long trunk hanging from his face, all the way down to the ground.

This time it was the elephant’s turn to get mad. He took in large amounts of water and sprayed it at the disconcerted crocodile, scaring the reptile away.

This was how elephants got their long noses. The trunk would go on to become a useful body part. And that is why, it is often said that good things sometimes come as a surprise.

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Ananya Susarla, Folk Tale writer at Ameya
Ananya Susarla

Ananya both loves to read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from Folktales of India.