|Size||Up to 5.4 ft (1.65 m) (shoulder height); up to 17.7 ft (5.4 m) (body)|
|Speed||18-25 mph (30-40 km/h) (short distances)|
|Food||Water plants, grass|
|Predators||Lions, hyenas, crocodiles|
|Scientific name||Hippopotamus amphibius|
|Characteristics||Plump body, short legs, huge mouth, tiny eyes|
Hippos are very heavy and large herbivores that live near water. They are nocturnal and live mainly solitary or in small groups. After the elephant, they're the second heaviest land animals. A special characteristic of the hippopotamus are their tusk-like canine teeth.
There are two kinds of hippos: the "normal" hippo and the less known pigmy hippo, which is about half as big. Both live in Africa. While the "normal" hippopotamus lives around lakes, slow-flowing rivers and grasslands, the pygmy hippopotamus has a slightly different habitat: rainforests and swamps. Because it is smaller, it gets through the thicket of the rainforest easily and, because it is lighter, it does'nt sink as much into the swampy ground.
Hippos were first discovered at the shores of the Nile. This is why the animals are still called “Nilpferd” in German. The term is obsolete and hippos do not live at the Nile anymore.
What Does Hippopotamus Mean?
Sounds like a tongue twister! That’s why the scientific term for the animal is often abbreviated as "hippo". The name derives from the Greek word "hippopótamos" and means "water horse" (hippo = horse; potamós = water). Maybe you have come across the term when you are a collector of "Happy Hippo" figures.
What Do Hippos Eat?
Hippos eat 154 lb (70 kg) of water plants and grass every day to get full.
Are Hippos Dangerous?
Hippos are big and heavy, but they can still run fast. They're known to become aggressive easily. They can also capsize boats.
Hippos Are Solitary Animals
Hippos do not form groups. Even if you can see several hippos together in one place, they do not necessarily belong to one family or herd. The hippos form new groups every day. Only mother and child stay together.
Senses and Abilities
Are Hippos Good Swimmers?
Hippos almost spend all day under water, but they are rather bad at swimming. With their fighting weight of 4 tons they let themselves just sink to the ground and walk about there. This looks very light-footed, as if they were dancers.
What Sounds Does a Hippo Make?
Hippos have the unique capability to utter sounds that are easy to hear both below the surface and above the surface. How does it work? They create sounds with their nose and their mouth, while the nose is above the surface and the mouth below the surface.
The Hippo's Role In the Ecosystem
With their heavy weight and massive body, hippos create small moats and water holes. These provide habitat and protection for smaller animals. Hippos also help fertilize the earth with their excrement.
Hippos mate in the water. The female stays under water most of the time. After 227–240 days, it gives birth to a baby hippo. Baby hippos can swim right from the start, because they are born and even suckle under water.
The Oldest Hippo
The oldest hippo was named Tanga and reached an age of 61 years. It lived in Munich (Germany) and died in 1995.
Can Hippos Jump?
No. Neither can elephants and rhinos.
Why Do Hippos Have Long, Thin Tails?
If hippos have to defecate, they rotate their tail like a propeller and spread their feces everywhere to mark their territory.
Hippos Sweat Blood
At least people claimed this in the past. Hippos actually have glands which emit some sort of reddish sweat. This protects the hippos from dehydration, bacteria and sunburns.
The Hippopotamus Is Related To:
- Whales (!)
Animals in the Same Biome: