Haematomyzus elephantis is a social species (Grzimek 1972). The lice attack and maintain contact colonially with the elephants. Unless they are removed or the whole colony moves, they remain sessile on the elephant, eating off the elephant (Grzimek 1972).
The elephant louse uses sharp, outward facing mandibles to rasp at the tough surface of the skin, eating off the hairs and miscellaneous debris on the elephant. The louse is also thought to suck the blood up through a median notch at the end of the rostrum.