Scientific Name: Hippopotamus amphibius
Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 40 years
Size: Head and body, 9.5 to 14 ft (2.8 to 4.2 m);
Tail, 13.75 to 19.75 inches (35 to 50 cm)
Weight: 5,000 to 8,000 lbs (2,268 to 3,629 kg)
Habitat: Rivers, swamps and protected areas
What does a hippopotamus look like?
Hippos are the third-largest living land mammal, after elephants and white rhinos. A hippo’s foot has four webbed toes which splay out to distribute weight evenly and therefore adequately support it on land. The grayish body has very thick skin which is virtually hairless. The hippo has neither sweat nor sebaceous glands, relying on water or mud to keep cool. It does, however, secrete a viscous red fluid which protects the animal’s skin against the sun and is possibly a healing agent. The hippo’s flat, paddle-like tail is used to spread excrement, which marks territory borders and indicates status of an individual.
Where do hippo's live?
Two hippo species are found in Africa. The large hippo, found in East Africa, occurs south of the Sahara. This social, group-living mammal is so numerous in some areas that "cropping" schemes are used to control populations that have become larger than the habitat can sustain. The other, much smaller (440 to 605 pounds) species of hippo is the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis). Limited to very restricted ranges in West Africa, it is a shy, solitary forest dweller, and now rare.
What does a hippopotamus eat?
Hippos are surprisingly agile and often traverse steep banks each night to graze on grass. They exit and enter the water at the same spots and graze for four to five hours, covering one or two miles, with extended forays of up to five miles. Their modest appetites are due to their sedentary life, which does not require high outputs of energy.
Do hippo's live in groups?
Hippos have a flexible social system defined by hierarchy and by food and water conditions. Usually they are found in mixed groups of about 15 individuals held by a territorial bull, but in periods of drought large numbers are forced to congregate near limited pools of water. This overcrowding disrupts the hierarchical system, resulting in even higher levels of aggression, with the oldest and strongest males most dominant. Old scars and fresh, deep wounds are signs of daily fights that are accompanied by many vocalizations.
Can a hippo float?
The feet are hoofed with membranes stretching between each of its four toes, enabling the hippo to move in water. The fat beneath the skin also is an adaptation to its watery environment, making this large animal buoyant enough to easily float along streams and swamps. 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.
Did You Know this about hippo's?
The name hippotamus comes from the Greek words "hippos," meaning horse, and "potamus," meaning river. Though the hippo spends most of its day in the water, it is more closely related to the pig than the horse.
Hippos like to be close to shore lying on their bellies. In areas undisturbed by people, hippos lie on the shore in the morning sun.
Baby hippos are usually born underwater. Their mother helps them to the surface for their first breath of air.
The hippopotamus is more closely related to whales and porpoises than it is to other land animals.
Rivaling the rhino, the hippo is perhaps the largest land animal in the world after the elephant. It's difficult to be sure because they're too big and aggressive to weigh in the wild.
The hippopotamus possesses modified sweat glands that secrete a reddish, moist substance that makes an excellent sunblock and provides protection against insect bites, particularly mosquitoes, which are the nemesis of all pachyderms.
Download free Hippopotamus wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
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Hippopotamus Coloring pages
Print free Hippopotamus coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.