The common hippopotamus is a large, semi-aquatic, herbivorous mammal. They are widely known as ‘Hippo’ and are found in the sub-Saharan African region. They belong to the family Hippopotamidae. The other only surviving species of the same family being the pygmy hippopotamus. The name is derived from ancient Greek and translates into ‘river horse’. Let’s check out some cool and amazing facts one of nature’s powerful animals.
As mentioned above, the hippopotamus is a large semi-aquatic animal. They are blessed with huge barrel-shaped body structure along with short stout legs, a small tail, and big head. Their skin tone is grayish to muddy-brown in a color that turns to pale pink underneath.
Hippos back the second place after elephants as the second largest land animal on this planet. Full grown males are 1.5 meters tall and 3.5 meters long. They are known to weigh around 3,200 kilograms which as good as three small cars. In spite of their enormous size, they can easily outrun humans with a speed of 30 km/h.
Hippos like spending time in lakes and rivers as it lets them cool down in hot African weather. Their nose, eyes, and ears are situated on top of their head. It allows them to breathe and see while partially submerged in the water. They can stay underwater for three to five minutes as their nose and ears fold and shut while submerged. These super-cool creatures sweat an oily red substance which protects their skin from turning dry and also acts as a sunscreen. It is also useful for protection from germs and bacteria.
The hippopotamus is herbivorous who is active during the night. Hippos search and munch on grass after the sunsets. In one single night, they are capable of devouring around 35kgs of their most preferred variety of grass.
Just like elephants, Hippopotamus operate in a herd of ten to twenty members. These groups consist of one dominant male along with females (referred to as cows), their young and non-breeding young males. Dominant male hippos act as a leader and protect their herd. For intimidating predators and rival males, they open their large mouths and show their huge curved teeth. They splash water aggressively and make loud grunting noises for driving away predators like hyenas, lions, and crocodiles. In spite of their social nature, they are aggressive towards other species including humans. When they sense danger on land, they may often turn towards waterbodies.
Female hippo gives birth to a calf every two years. After birth, both mother and calf join the other cows and calves. Moving into herd ensures protection against predators. A young hippo calf can weigh around 45kg at birth.
In a natural setting, hippopotamus lives for about 40 years while in captivity they live longer lives extent up to 50 years of age. The IUCN recognized hippos as one of the vulnerable species in 2008 as their number drastically declined due to loss of habitat and hunting in Congo.