Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the "river horse." Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in water, good swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. However, they are often large enough to simply walk or stand on the lake floor, or lie in the shallows.
Their eyes and nostrils are located high on their heads, which allows them to see and breathe while mostly submerged. Hippos also bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs.
At sunset, hippopotamuses leave the water and travel overland to graze. They may travel 6 miles (10 kilometers) in a night, along single-file pathways, to consume some 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of grass. Considering their enormous size, a hippo's food intake is relatively low. If threatened on land hippos may run for the water—they can match a human's speed for short distances. Hippo calves weigh nearly 100 pounds (45 kilograms) at birth and can suckle on land or underwater by closing their ears and nostrils. Each female has only one calf every two years. Soon after birth, mother and young join schools that provide some protection against crocodiles, lions, and hyenas.
Hippos once had a broader distribution but now live in eastern central and southern sub-Saharan Africa, where their populations are in decline. Hippos may look like oversized harmless cows to some people, but truth be told they are one of the most dangerous beasts in Africa and kill more humans that any other animal there... They can weigh up to 9000 pounds and have teeth that are as sharp as razor blades. These beasts are vegetarians and don't eat people. The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore.
Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20 inch canines.
- The hippo's closest living relative is the whale
- Hippos can kill crocodiles
- The hippo is in danger of becoming extinct
- Hippos can't jump
- Hippopotamuses can go underwater and hold its breath for as much as half hour.
- The huge jaws of Hippos are studded with spike-like teeth. It can bite a crocodile in half.
- Believe it or not but these massive mammals can also swim underwater, walk and run on the river bottom. They are capable of doing these due to their specific gravity.
- This is really amazing, a Hippo can sleep underwater. While sleeping, the process of surfacing and breathing is automatic, it will rise and breathe without waking. It closes its nostrils when it submerges.
- Most mammals mate and give birth on land. For Hippos, reproduction and childbirth both occur in water.
- Hippos are herbivores. They do not graze in group. Instead, each Hippo eats alone because eating is private for them. Each night, a Hippo spends 4 to 5 hours grazing and consumes 68 kg of grass.
- People used to think that Hippos sweat blood. A Hippo’s natural skin oil is red. It keeps the skin from cracking in the heat.
- Hippos are territorial in waters but not territorial on land. A bull Hippo marks its territory by spinning its tail while defecating to distribute its excrement over the greatest possible area.
- The Hippo is the third-largest land animal by weight. It can weigh as much as 3 tonnes. Only the Elephant and the Rhino are heavier than the Hippo.
- Although it is regarded as one of the largest animals in the world (only whales, elephants, and rhinos are larger – making it the world’s 4th largest) and despite having relatively short legs, a Hippo can easily outrun a human. It had been clocked at 30 km/h or 19 mph over short distances.
- 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.
- Female Hippos or Cows reach a maximum weight at age 25 but male Hippos or Bulls appear to continue growing throughout their lives.
- When a Hippo opens its mouth, it is not yawning. An open mouth signals that the Hippo feels threatened.
- Along with Whales, Porpoises, etc… and Dugong, Manatees, etc… Hippos are one of the few mammals that give birth under water. A baby hippo is born underwater at a weight between 25 and 45 kg and an average length of around 127 cm.
- 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.
- This is quite bizarre, although its occurrence is very rare, when hippos become overpopulated, male Hippos will sometimes attempt to kill baby Hippos or Calves.
African Wildlife Foundation
Animal Danger – the Most Dangerous Animals in the World (Note: does not include man)