Amazing Facts About Hippopotamus

Animals Mammals

The hippopotamus was named by the Greeks, which means “river horse”. Nevertheless, hippo is more closely related to pigs than horses. However, recent DNA evidences suggest that the hippopotamus is more closely related to cetaceans i.e. whales and dolphins. The hippopotamus is found in western, central, eastern and southern parts of Africa. They inhabit rivers, lakes, and wallows during the day. At night, hippos graze in short grasslands.  Their habitat ranges from Central and Southern Africa, Western Africa to south of the Sahara Desert. They are mostly found along the Nile River Valley and in game parks and reserves. Hippopotamus is the third largest animal on land, next to elephant and white rhino. It is one of the only two extant species in the Hippopotamidae family, with the other one being the Pygmy Hippopotamus.To help you know hippopotamus more elaborately, interesting and amazing information on hippopotamus has been complied below.

Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Hippopotamus Amphibius
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Hippopotamidae
Genus: Hippopotamus
Species: Two
Subspecies: Five
Height: Up to 5 feet
Length: Up to 13 feet
Weight: Up to 3½ tons
Age: 50 years
Maximum Speed: 30 mph (48 km/h) – over short distances.
Natural Habitat: Rivers, swamps and protected areas (in Africa).
Diet: Grass leaves and fruits.
Age of Maturity: 12 years.
Gestation Period: About 8 months.
Number of Offspring: One.

Amazing Facts About Hippopotamus

  • The hippopotamus is allied to pigs and hogs and has a very thick, naked skin, a thick and square head, a very large muzzle, small eyes and ears, thick and heavy body and short legs.
  • An adult male hippopotamus can weigh as much as 3200 kg (7000 lbs), but usually they weigh around 2300 kg (5000 lbs).  Adult females only weigh about 1800 kg (4000 lbs).
  • Even though hippos are so big, they only eat plants.  In a single night, a hippo can eat as much as 45.5 kg (100 lbs) of grass.
  • A hippopotamus does not sweat; rather it excretes an oily, red liquid that protects its skin. This red liquid has given birth to the myth that it sweats blood.
  • The hippo’s yawn is not a sign of sleepiness or boredom, but is actually a threat gesture, displaying long, thick, razor-sharp canine teeth, or tusks, with which it is capable of biting a small boat in half. Being fearlessly protective of their turf and young, hippos have killed hundreds of people in Africa – more than any other wild animal.
  • They spend most of the day in water, but come to land at night to feed.
  • The hippopotamus drinks up to 250 liters (56 gallons) in 24 hours.
  • The normal sound of a hippo is classified as wheeze honking.
  • The tusks of a hippopotamus are even more valuable than that of an elephant, as they do not turn yellow with time.
  • The ears and nostrils – located at the top of the head – close automatically when the animal is under water. It has practically no hair, and its smooth skin is quite delicate.
  • A group of hippos is called a “bloat.”
  • Male hippos are called bulls.
  • Female hippos are called cows.
  • A baby hippo is called a calf.
  • Hippos are hosts to many creatures. Birds, such as hammerhead storks and cattle egrets, use hippos as perches for fishing while hippos stand in water.
  • In the water, certain fish species eat algae and other deposits off the hippos’ skin.
  • A hippo can hold its breath for about 5 minutes.
  • A newly born hippo must swim to the surface to take their first breath. The young often rest on its mother’s back when in water and swim underwater to suckle.
  • Hippopotamuses are amongst the world’s most dangerous and aggressive creatures. They are often considered as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. They often attack human beings without any reason or apparent provocation.
  • They face an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future.
  • Several species of small hippopotamids (Dwarf hippos) have become extinct including the Cretan Dwarf Hippopotamus, the Sicilian Hippopotamus, the Maltese Hippopotamus and the Cyprus Dwarf Hippopotamus.
  • A hippopotamus is born under water.
  • Hippopotamus are heavy animals with their hide alone weighing more than half a ton!
  • Male hippos often attack young hippos in water, but never on land.
  • Although a baby hippo can eat grass when its 3 weeks, it usually nurses for a year before raiding the turf.
  • A hippopotamus’ tail is about 22 inches long.
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