Hippos | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Hippos

What do we know about hippos? They live in Africa, sit in water all the time, flap their ears vigorously and move quite slowly.

In Ancient Greek, hippopotamus means ‘river horse’.

Hippos have a peculiar system of communicating with each other. They snort, growl and moo. But beyond that, many scientists speculate that they use echolocation. Hippos can hear perfectly well, both on land and in water. To this day, African hippos never cease to amaze researchers. No other living creature on Earth is like them. For you, I have gathered 10 of the most unusual and interesting facts about these animals:

Fact number one.

Adults can weigh over three tonnes and are among the largest terrestrial animals on the planet. Hippos share second place in mass and volume with white rhinos, after elephants. The adult hippopotamus has thirty-six teeth with pronounced fangs, and its mouth is one and a half metres open. The skin of the hippopotamus is one of the thickest in the world, at four centimetres thick. The skin also makes up fifteen percent of its total body weight. The pupils of hippos sometimes resemble the letter «T». The eyesight of these amazing animals is adapted to both daytime and nighttime. That’s why hippos can be found swimming or hunting in the dark.

Fact number two.

An adult hippo can eat 50-100 kilos of food. European standards set the daily allowance for a hippo at 82 kilos. In the wild, hippos can go without food for about two weeks.

Fact number three.

Hippos love water. It’s their passion. The main thing is that the body of water must be fresh. Hippos will climb in there for a long time and enjoy the coolness. The animals can hold their breath for up to five minutes while closing their nostrils. Interestingly, hippos are good swimmers: the fat padding and webbing on their short legs help them stay in the water.

Fact number four.

Hippos go on land in search of food. They usually feed at night. Previously, hippos were thought to be exclusively herbivorous animals, but scientists have recently proven that hippos can also eat meat from crocodiles and antelopes.

Fact number five.

The average lifespan of a hippo is about 40 years. However, in zoos, hippos live more than fifty years.

Fact number six.

At the advanced age of 40-45, the hippos’ teeth wear down. They no longer settle for plant food and begin to hunt. At first sight, a hippo appears clumsy and slow, but in fact, a hippo can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.

Fact number seven.

Hippos don’t usually walk alone. They gather in small herds of about fifteen and graze together. The male hippo is responsible for the whole group. He protects the whole herd in case of danger. In times of drought, the herds gather near large water bodies. During this period, mating takes place, and after eight months, the little cubs are born.

Fact number eight.

Most births take place on land, but there are cases where calves are born in water. The cubs weigh just over 50 kilograms. They are a target for many predators: leopards, lions and so on. The female hippo tries her best to protect her cub from danger. Few people know, but there are pygmy hippos in the wild. Their «cubs» grow from 75 to 80 centimetres in length and weigh 180 kilograms. This is fifteen times less than their adult counterparts. And newborn pygmy hippos are the size of cats.

Fact number nine.

Hippos, despite their intimidating appearance, can be kind and merciful. There was once a case where a hippo saved the life of an antelope. The defenseless animal was attacked by a crocodile and a resting hippo came to the rescue. He fought off the antelope from the ferocious predator, dragged it to the shore and began to lick its wounds. Unfortunately, half an hour later the antelope died. But after it died, the hippo stayed near the antelope for another quarter of an hour, keeping the hungry vultures away.

Fact number ten.

Although hippos are a friendly herd, they often have conflicts. Most often it’s over females or territories occupied by food. More often than not, they are resolved peacefully. Two males simply approach each other and begin to examine their rivals. If one of them is bigger or taller, the one who has lost will leave. There are also bloody fights, which can sometimes be fatal.

Many countries celebrate National Hippo Day on 15 February. In the United States, it is a national holiday.

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