Hippopotamus or Hippo, is a large, mostly herbivorous semiaquatic mammal. Native of sub-Saharan Africa, the hippo is one of only two extant species in the family of Hippopotamidae. The name hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse”. The third-largest type of land mammal after the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the heaviest extant artiodactyl. Even though they physically resemble many other land animals like the pigs their closest relatives are cetaceans.
Hippopotamus are native to Africa, living in the sub-Saharan Africa. They prefer areas with abundant water, which they use to submerge in and keep their skin cool and moist. Hippos spend up to 16 hours per day in water. You can find a group of Hippos living around lakes and rivers. Most common Hippos are found in the Eastern part of Africa, while other subspecies of Hippos choose to live around swamplands.
There are two species of hippos in the world today, the Common Hippopotamus and the Pygmy Hippopotamus. Both mammals live in Africa and both are a member of the family Hippopotamidae. Throughout history, various species of hippos existed. Originally the native ranges of Hippos expanded across Africa and into the Middle East and Europe. Changes in climate and expansion of humans destroyed 95% of the Hippo population and pushed the remaining animals to Africa, the only place these creatures can be found today.
Hippos have a quite healthy diet that is mostly herbivorous. An average adult Hippo eats about 80 pounds or 35 kilograms of grass each night in a up to 6-mile region. Hippos are also known to eat some fruits they find during their late-night scavenging hikes. When the food source runs low in the hippo’s range, they can store food in their stomachs and go three weeks without eating.
Hippos are known to be herbivorous, but a recent study in the journal Mammal Review discovered that hippos occasionally feed on the carcasses of other animals and even hippos. This could possibly be credited to the expansion of human kind, global warming, and growing shortage of food supplies for the herbivore mammals and animals.
These beautiful semi-aquatic animals are the second largest land living mammal of the world after the elephant. Hippos grow to be between 3.3 – 5 meters (10.8 to 16.5 feet) long and up to 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) tall at the shoulders. Hippos are very rotund animals. The average female weighs around 1,400 kilograms or 3,000 pounds, while males weigh 1,600 to 4,500 kilograms (3,500 – 9,920 pounds).
The hippo’s eyes, ears, and nose are placed at the top of their head, allowing them to spend all that time in the water. These features allow the hippos to remain protected from the sun, while also continuing to breath and keep an eye and ear out for oncoming dangers from other mammals and animals. A clear membrane on the eyes allows the hippos to also see clearly under water. The hippo is also able to hold its breath for a very long time under water.
The hippo grows two large husks at the bottom of their mouth, which can grow up to over a foot long.
Hippo’s Behavior & Life Cycle
Hippo is a generally nocturnal animal, this is because the hippo cannot sweat so staying out of the harms of the sun is crucial to this animal. Hippos are one of the most aggressive and nervous animals of the wild. Extremely territorial, the hippos will attack any and all animals and humans that attempt to take a piece of their water.
The water source is not only a source of hydration for the hippo but in fact a life line, as long exposure to the sun can cause cracking of the skin of the hippo and even death. This is why the hippo aggressively protects its water source.
Female hippos have a gestation period of eight months and have one baby at a time. The babies are born between 23-50 kilograms (50-110 pounds). The calf nurses from its mother for the first 9 months. A calf is considered fully matured at 5-7 years of age, and have a median life expectancy of 36 years.