Hippopotamus Facts

The Greeks named the hippopotamus and the name translates to ‘river horse’.

While they may look slow and cumbersome, the hippopotamus is actually one of the most aggressive animals in the world.

Hippo Facts for Kids

  • Hippopotamus lives in waterways and shorelines in Africa.
  • The hippo has an oily red substance that they secrete to protect their skin from the sun and acts to moisturize the skin as well as for germ protection. The color of the oil has given way to myths that the hippo sweats blood.
  • Hippos are mammals and need to breathe air just like humans. An adult hippo will stay underwater but it is an automatic reaction to resurface every three to five minutes for breathing. This reaction will happen even if they are asleep underwater and they will rise to the surface without waking up.
  • Although the hippo has a stocky build, looks are deceiving. The hippo can reach running speeds of up to thirty km/h in short distances and can run faster than the average human being.
  • Hippos are not territorial when they are on land, but are very much so in the water. Almost everything they do exists in the water, including the birth of their calves.
  • A newborn baby hippo calves will weigh around 45 kg when born and can drink its mother’s milk underwater by closing its nostrils and ears.
  • A female hippopotamus will have a single calf every two years. Once born, the mother and baby join groups that are called ‘schools’ which act as protection again predators such as lions, crocodiles, and hyenas.

Hippos will go on land to look for food and can walk as far as 10 km.

They usually spend 4 to 5 hours in the grazing process and can eat up to 68 kg each night.

When you compare the size of the hippo to the amount of food intake, it is considered very low.

  • A hippo is typically on aggressive when in the water and if it is threatened while on land it will quickly run towards the water.
  • A hippo is a direct relative of other cetaceans such as porpoises and whales.
  • The hippopotamus numbers are declining in Africa and they are listed as ‘vulnerable’ for potential extinction classification. The largest decline in the population is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids