10 Hippo Facts!
They’re big, bulky and can deliver one serious chomp!
Get ready to meet one of nature’s most powerful animals with our ten facts about the hippopotamus…
1) Hippos are large semi-aquatic mammals, with a large barrel-shaped body, short legs, a short tail and an enormous head! They have greyish to muddy-brown skin, which fades to a pale pink colour underneath.
2) They are considered the second largest land animal on Earth (first place goes to the elephant!). Males measure around 3.5m long and 1.5m tall, and can weigh up 3,200kg. That’s as much as three small cars!
3) To stay cool in the blistering African heat, hippos spend most of their day in rivers and lakes. Their eyes, nose and ears are located on the top of their head, which means they can see and breathe whilst submerged in the water. What’s more, these super-cool creatures sweat an oily red liquid which helps protect their skin from drying out – and acts as a sunblock, too! Cool, huh?
4) These magnificent mammals were once found throughout all sub-saharan Africa. Sadly, populations have declined due to habitat loss and hunting. Today, they are largely confined to protected areas in East African countries.
5) Hippos are most active at night, when they forage for food. They are herbivores, and eat mostly grass – and boy do they eat grass! In just one night, they can guzzle down up to 35kg of their favourite grub!
6) Despite their enormous size, hippos are great swimmers and can hold their breath for up to five minutes underwater. When completely submerged, their ears and nostrils fold shut to keep water out.
7) Hippos usually live in groups (or “herds”) of around ten to 20 individuals, led by one large dominant male. The other members are females, their young and a few young non-breeding males.
8) Dominant males are very protective over their group. To warn off rival males, they open their huge mouths and display their long, curved canines! They also make loud grunts and aggressive splashes in the water.
9) Female hippos, called cows, give birth every two years, usually to a single calf. Soon after birth, the mother and her baby join up with other cows and calves for protection against predators, such as crocodiles, lions and hyenas.
10) In the wild hippos live for around 40 years. In captivity, they tend to live longer and may reach up to 50 years old.