Ever wondered whether you can find a horse in a river? On a lazy African river, you might notice an enormous animal rising – that is the ‘river horse’ or Hippopotamus Amphibious/ The Hippo. They are not at all related to horses but their connections can be made with pigs, whales or dolphins. Almost 55 million years ago this species had evolved and has been on the earth ever since. The Hippo is the third largest mammal on land after the White Rhino and the Elephant. Hippos are found in the central and southern parts of Africa.
Structure and Features of Hippopotamus
- Hippos can grow up to 10 feet in length and 5 feet in height.
- They are huge animals with the body like a barrel and weigh to around 7000 pounds/ 3100 kgs.
- Hippos have short legs, a big mouth and their eyes, ears and nose are located at the top of their head which works to their advantage.
- Hippos spend a lot of their time in the water. They are found in deep rivers and swamps. With their distinct features, they are able to keep themselves submerged in water for long periods of time with their ears and eyes above to look out for predators. Their eyes also have a clear membrane that helps them to see under water. They can hold their breaths for as along as 30 minutes. They move or walk around in water by pushing back the underwater soil with their feet since they cannot swim or float due to their weight.
- Hippos have extremely thick skin. The skin has pores which excrete thick red goo known as ‘blood sweat’. This sweat helps them keep the cuts, scratches and wounds from getting infected. It also protects them from the sun and acts like a sunscreen for the hippos. Hippos feel extremely hot, because they do not have any sweat glands; thus they spend most of their time under water, resting.
- A mother hippo gives birth to its baby also underwater. They are herbivores and eat only vegetation, their main diet consisting of grass.
- Hippos usually live and move around in herds which consist of 10 to 200 hippos. Their herds are also called pod, dale or bloat. A hippo can live up to 50 years.
What are the Enemies of Hippos?
Enemies of Hippos are predators like lions, crocodiles and above all- humans. With the decrease in African elephants, Poachers started hunting Hippos for their teeth endangering the species to extinction. During wartime in Africa, their meat became a source of food for humans.
Are Hippos Dangerous?
Yes, Hippos are among the most dangerous animals in the world. When provoked, Hippos can be extremely aggressive. Hippos can run up to 20 miles per hour and are responsible for quite a few deaths in Africa.
5 Interesting Hippopotamus Facts
- A male Hippo is called a Bull and female Hippo is called a cow.
- Hippos live in herds and are possessive about their territories.
- The thick sweat that their skin excretes looks like blood.
- The male Hippo leads the group while the females come behind with the young calves.
- Only a young Hippo can swim under water.
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