As a water-loving animal, the hippopotamus was named by the Greeks and translates to “river horse.” Commonly known to be peeking out of the water with its flared nostrils, the hippo has extremely sensitive skin, hence spending majority of their day basking in the water to cool it down from the harsh sun. We discuss a few fascinating and incredible facts about the hippopotamus in this blog.
About the Hippopotamus
The hippopotamus is classified as a mammal and can live up to forty years in the wild. They typically weigh 1.5 to 4 tons! Hippos spend approximately sixteen hours a day bathing in lakes and rivers to cool down their large bodies under the heat of the scorching African sun.
This massive animal embarks on a grazing venture at sunset, ingesting 36 kilograms of grass. While this may sound like a lot, it is quite a minimal amount, given their enormous body size. Should hippos encounter a threat while on land, they make a run for the solace of the water, easily matching human speed at short distances. Fascinatingly enough, the hippopotamus cannot float or swim. Instead, they balance their bodies by walking or standing on surfaces submerged below the water.
The Reproduction of Hippopotamuses
The calves of hippos can weight up to 45 kilograms, with the mother hippo birthing merely one calf every two years. The calves tend to suckle their mothers by closing their nostrils and ears when on land or under water. Shortly after birth, mother hippopotamus and their young commune in schools, providing protection against their predators, such as crocodiles or lions. The population of the hippo is currently in decline, where they once had a much broader grouping.
Fun Facts About the Hippo:
- A well-known myth exists that hippos sweat blood. In actuality, they secret an oily red substance which acts as a moisturiser and sunblock for their skin, potentially acting as a protective layer against germs.
- The hippopotamus is herbivorous.
- When their gaping jaws fall open, this is a warning sign asking you to back off from their water-bound territory. Many mistake this as “yawning.”
- Hippos are the third-largest land mammals, preceded by the white lion and the elephant!
- Hippos reproduce and give birth while submerged in water.
- Adult hippopotamuses resurface from the water every 3-5 minutes in order to breathe. This surfacing and breathing process is a subconscious act, with hippos doing so even when they are asleep.
Only the most patient and luckiest nature lovers will get to see the famed hippopotamus in their true habitat. To get up close and personal with this gigantic water baby, be sure to visit the opulent and esteemed Yingwe Lodge, just a little distance away from the Kruger National Park.