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Hippopotamus Facts

The hippo is a large mammal. Their bodies are barrel-shaped, with short legs and a short tail.

The top layer of their skin is greyish to muddy brown, while the bottom layer is pale pink.

Hippopotamus Facts for Kids

  • Hippos live in Africa
  • They are herbivores
  • They live for around 40 years
  • Female hippos are called cows
  • Hippos are really strong swimmers

Types of Hippos

There are 2 types of hippos in the wild:

Common Hippopotamus

The hippo is a large semiaquatic mammal found in sub-Saharan Africa.

The aggressive and unpredictable nature of hippos makes them one of the most dangerous animals in the world.

Common hippos have barrel-shaped bodies with short tails and legs and an hourglass-shaped skull with a long muzzle. They are semiaquatic animals that can move up to 8 km/h (5 mph) in water and can sleep while submerged.

A hippo’s jaw is powered by a large masseter and a well-developed digastric, and it can open its mouth at almost 180°. Its teeth are sharpened as they grind together, relying on its broad, rough lips to feed.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

The pygmy hippopotamus is a rare nocturnal forest creature that is semiaquatic and feeds on ferns, broad-leaved plants, grasses, and fruits. It is threatened by habitat loss and is among the species illegally hunted for food in Liberia.

Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids

A pygmy hippopotamus is known as a bull, a female as a cow, and a baby as a calf.

They have greenish-black or brown skin, shading to a creamy gray on the lower body, and secrete a substance that is believed to have antiseptic and sun screening properties.

They have less pronounced orbits, nostrils, and narrower feet to assist with walking on the forest floor.

What are the characteristics of hippos?

The hippopotamus is a huge amphibious African mammal that can reach a length of 11.5 feet and a height of 5 feet. Its skin is thick, nearly hairless, grayish brown above, lighter, and pinkish below.

They live near rivers, lakes, swamps, or other permanent bodies of water and can swim fast, walk along the bottom, and remain submerged for five minutes or more.

Where do hippos live?

Hippopotamuses live in sub-Saharan Africa. There are two species of hippos: the African pygmy hippopotamus and the common hippopotamus. This animal lives in rivers, streams, and wetlands.

They are land animals, but they spend their days resting in the water or mud most of the time. When they feel hot or cold, they either go into the river to find shade or head to the nearest body of water.

When it gets dark, they will return to the shoreline where food is waiting for them. They will sleep underwater at night, coming up to breathe air every few hours.

What do hippos like to eat?

These herbivorous animals have a healthy appetite. The average adult eats 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of grass each night, traveling up to 6 miles (10 km).

They also eat rich fruits that they find at nighttime.

What are Hippos Predators

Young hippos are often preyed upon by crocodiles, lions, and spotted hyenas. Due to their aggression and size, adult hippos are rarely preyed upon by other animals.

It has been reported that lion prides have successfully preyed on hippos, but the incidence is rare.

Humans are the biggest threat to hippos. In some parts of Africa, people hunt hippos for meat.

How Do Hippos Protect Themselves?

To protect themselves, they live in groups called herds, which can have 10-30 hippos. Although sometimes fighting can break out within the herd, they generally stick together and protect each other.