Fun Facts About Hippos
By Britta Foulis
When one thinks of a hippo, you may think all they do is lazily bob around in pools of water, blow air from their nostrils, and show off their impressive teeth with their dopey yawns. You may be surprised to find out that there is much more to these interesting animals than you think…
Our Favorite Hippo Facts
We love hippo and could sit for hours on end watching them interact with one another.
Hippo’s Cannot Swim – We Know, It’s Shocking!
Hippos spend pretty much their whole lives in water, so it really doesn’t sound right when you hear that they actually cannot swim. It is true though, the main reason they spend so much time in the water is mainly to protect their extremely sensitive skin from the harsh African sun.
Many people think hippos are great swimmers when in reality, they cannot swim at all!
When you see a hippo in a body of water, they’reactually balancing on their tippy-toes or standing on a sandbank. Hippo’s sink when in deep water, which isn’t too surprising considering males can weigh up to 3 200 kg’s! So when a hippo is underwater, they aren’t swimming but rather trotting along on the bottom.
They Have Incredibly Sensitive Skin
If you’ve ever seen a hippo basking in the sun, you may have noticed what seems to be blood dripping from their skin. There is no need to be alarmed though, this substance is, in fact, a built-in “Hippo Sunblock” which is oily and red in colour. It not only provides much-needed protection from the sun’s rays, but is also an effective moisturiser and germ-killer, too.
They Cannot Breathe Underwater
While they do spend most of their time submerged in water, hippos need to resurface every 3 – 5 minutes to breathe. They even do this when sleeping! The motion of surfacing and breathing through their nostrils is an automatic one, so hippos who are deep in their slumber will still subconsciously rise to the top for a breath of air.
Hippos Are Territorial – But Only In Water
Water is a safe place for hippo, two of the most important things in their life takes place in water, mating and giving birth. Most people know that the hippo is an aggressiveanimal but they are only known to show territorial behaviour when submerged. If threatened on land, most hippo will run for cover in water nearby.
A hippo charges. You can really see the power these creatures hold.
What most people see as a yawn is actually a sign of aggression, this is why you only see hippo’s “yawning” when in water – they’re actually showing you how big their teeth are, leaving you to daydream about how they can hurt you…
Hippos are also known to make honking or grunting sounds whilst in water to mark their territory.
They Are Not Big Eaters
Becuase of their humungous size, one would be forgiven for thinking hippos eat a lot, but this is actually not true. A male hippo can weigh anywhere between 1 600 kg – 3 200 kg and females can weigh between 650 kg – 2 350 kg – pretty impressive! Yet they only eat between 1 and 1,5 % of their body weight every day.
Hippo forage for food at night so as to escape the heat of the day.
Hippos forage for food at night – they are herbivores and will eat any plant that comes their way but mainly snack on grass as it’s their favourite. Even though they are surrounded by aquatic plants for most of the day, it is still not understood exactly why hippo do not eat these plants but rather opt to search for food on land. Hippo can walk up to 5 miles in search of food and spend around 5 hours a night grazing.
Hippos Have A British Connection
If you were to live in prehistoric Britain, you would find not only hippo but lions, elephant, and other megafauna(large or giant animals) roaming the land. Remains of hippo have been found underneath Trafalgar Square!
Join us and see these interesting water waders in the wild. Spend an hour or two with a pod of hippo wallowing in the shallows and get to know these round and rowdy creatures a bit better.
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