Animals

The Hippo: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

These Hippo facts are extremely interesting. Read on to find more
Share
Tweet

The Hippopotamus, scientifically known as the Hippopotamus amphibius and commonly called the Hippo, is an omnivore mammal native to Sub-Saharan Africa. There are two kinds of Hippos found in the wild: the common Hippo and the pygmy Hippo. They are both aquatic and terrestrial and have webbed feet. Their short legs help them to propel in water and also provide to maintain their balance on land. Contrasting their aggressive temperament, Hippos feed mainly on plants and leaves and often get into a tussle with crocodiles in swamps and lakes. A large herd of Hippos can be found in Tanzania and Zambia. The populations of Hippos are decreasing in the Republic of Congo and the Virunga National Park.

Their diet is mainly herbivorous though they might sometimes feed on aquatic plants. In order to prevent their nose and ears from water, Hippos can close their nostrils and ears. This ability allows Hippos to suckle on land as well as underwater. Hippos spend almost 16 hours every day in water and are regarded as third largest living land animals. They are known to be able to hold their breath for up to five minutes underwater. Hippos prefer to live in shallow waters of rivers as they can easily sleep there when they are half submerged in the river water. After reading these interesting Hippo facts, you may also look at leopard seal and fennec fox after this article.

Hippo

Fact File

What do they prey on?

N/A

What do they eat?

Herbivores

Average litter size?

1 calf

How much do they weigh?

Male: 3300-4000 lb Female: 2800-3300 lb

How long are they?

N/A


How tall are they?

4.5-6 ft


What do they look like?

Grey or brown with reddish pink tint

Skin Type

Hairy thick skin

What are their main threats?

Habitat loss, deforestation, land clearing, pollution of water bodies

What is their conservation status?

Vulnerable

Where you'll find them

Swamps, rivers, lakes

Locations

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Scientific Name

Hippopotamus amphibius

Family

Hippopotamidae

Genus

Hippopotamus

Hippo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Hippo?

The Hippopotamus is a semi-aquatic animal that feeds on plants and leaves and is an opportunistic hunter. They lack sweat glands and have thin outer skin, which often gets bruised while fighting. These animals cool themselves by dipping themselves in water and mud. Hippos spend around two-thirds of their time in water. Common Hippos get involved in regular fights, while pygmy Hippos are solitary animals and only socialize during the mating period.

What class of animal does a Hippo belong to?

The Hippopotamus is a land mammal but also can be found submerged in water bodies like lakes and swamps for cooling themselves in the hot weather. Common Hippos often are found in groups of 20-100 while pygmy Hippos prefer leading a solitary life. Common Hippos segregate themselves into smaller groups when there is a scarcity of food. Hippos are also known as Amphibious African ungulate mammal.

How many Hippos are there in the world?

The population of the Hippopotamus has been declining for the last ten years due to habitat loss, pollution of water bodies, and unavailability of food and water resources. Though the IUCN Red List has not listed these amphibious animals as Endangered, the pygmy Hippos are considered to be endangered while the common Hippos are listed as Vulnerable respectively. If the population of these mammals continues to decline in the future, they would shortly become extinct.

Where does a Hippo live?

The common Hippos live with their group in swamps, lakes, and wetlands and are semi-aquatic and semi-terrestrial, while the pygmy Hippos are largely terrestrial. Hippos are freshwater animals and spend 16 hours of their day in the water, keeping their skin moist and their temperature cool in the high heat of Africa. Hippos’ habitat in Western Africa can also be found at seashores and inside the sea in estuarine waters. The process of surfacing and breathing is automatic in Hippos and even a Hippo that is sleeping underwater will automatically rise and breathe without waking.  

What is a Hippo's habitat?

African Hippos are semi-aquatic mammals and are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Hippopotamuses are also hunted by humans for the popularity of their meat and horns. Predators like hyenas, lions, tigers, and cheetahs also consume Hippos. They can be found throughout Africa loitering with their group near water bodies. They can breathe as well as see even when they are submerged in water.

Who do Hippos live with?

African Hippopotamus lives with their own species in the wild while Pygmy Hippos live an isolated life except during the mating period. A group of Hippos is called a bloat, pod, or siege, which includes 20-100 common Hippos that live together. This group includes both male and female Hippos who mate during the breeding season.

How long does a Hippo live?

The Hippopotamus is a large African mammal, sometimes it has a violent and aggressive personality, but mostly it chews on leaves and plants for food. The life expectancy for Hippos is around 40-50 years in the wild. A Hippopotamus can die due to many other reasons like loss of habitat, unavailability of food, water pollution, predation, and hunting by humans. The population of Hippos is decreasing due to these reasons, and they have now been listed as vulnerable mammals by the IUCN Red List.

How do they reproduce?

Male Hippopotamuses submerge the female Hippo in the water forcibly, and they mate in the water. The females only lift their heads for breathing through their nostrils. Even though Hippos are semi-aquatic in nature, they cannot swim but can mate in water. Sometimes Hippos do mate on land which is very rare. The gestation period in Hippos lasts for 240 days, and the female Hippos only give birth to one calf per litter.

What is their conservation status?

The populations of Hippopotamuses in the wild has been declining rapidly, and currently, their status has been listed by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. The Hippos are now restricted to protected areas where they cannot be hunted down by predators as well as humans for their horns, meat, and teeth, which consist of ivory. Populations of pygmy Hippos are also endangered as they are terrestrial in nature and habitat in forests and where the vegetation is dense.

Hippo Fun Facts

What do Hippos look like?

Hippos are large-bodied mammals who spend most of their time lazing in water and cooling themselves. Their torso looks like a barrel, and their skin is almost hairless, with little hair near the mouth. They have a wide mouth with nostrils for breathing in water. They have short legs, which help in propulsion in the water and for running and walking on land. They also have tusks in both their jaws, which are made of ivory. Hippos are largely hunted by humans for their huge tusks as they are extremely valued and are sold at grand prizes.

A hippo loves being half-submerged in water.

How cute are they?

The baby Hippo as well as a happy Hippo is a very cute and adorable animal. Hippos are aggressive in nature and can easily get angered if provoked. They can also pounce on humans or an animal if they are irritated or threatened. They are fast runners and can easily attack or injure mammals or poachers. Baby Hippos weigh only 50 kg when they are born and have pink skin.

How do they communicate?

Hippos communicate through their body language and different sounds like whines, howls, growls, and honking on the ground as well as in the water. They are very loud and noisy. Other noises like wheezing, grunting, roaring could also send different signals to other Hippos. Studies also show that Hippos also laugh. Male adult Hippos also tend to threaten calves and other potential males to retain their dominance over the group.

How big is a Hippo?

An adult male Hippo is 3300-4000 lb in weight, while the female Hippo is 280-3300 lb. The males are dominantly bigger and heavier than the females and also have a dominant position in the Hippo pod. The body length of an average adult of a Hippo can be anywhere between 10.5-16 ft. The average body height of a Hippo is 5.2 ft. Baby Hippos can weigh around 88-110 lb during birth.

How fast can a Hippo move?

Despite their heavy body, Hippos can run at very fast speeds of 32 mph. They are good runners and have a high potential for agility. They are poor swimmers even though they are semi-aquatic. They grow up with short legs, which helps them to maintain their balance on land. They can move in the water very slowly at a distance of seven miles per hour. They can also be attacked by crocodiles but a Hippo can easily fight a crocodile and even kill it with its powerful body. Humans cannot outrun a Hippo as they have a history of attacking human beings, being the only herbivore mammals in Africa to hunt down humans.

How much does a Hippo weigh?

Male and female adult Hippos can weigh anywhere between 2800-4000 lb. The maximum weight a Hippo can reach is 4000 lb. Baby Hippo calves weigh only around 100 lb during birth.

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male Hippo is called a bull, while a female Hippo is commonly known as a cow. The offspring are known as calves. Dominant male Hippos ward off any danger and do not let anybody take their position.

What would you call a baby Hippo?

Baby Hippos are called calves. They only weigh fifty kg after birth and are mostly born underwater. They have pink skin at birth, which slowly achieves its normal color, similar to other Hippos. The baby Hippo stays with its mother till it reaches the age of sexual maturity.  Female Hippos develop and reach sexual maturity at the age of five, while male Hippos are sexually mature when they complete seven to eight years of age alongside their mother.

What do they eat?

Hippos are omnivorous in nature, which means they can consume both plant and animal material for their diet. They have such strong teeth that they can tear up a crocodile or even a human being into two pieces. Their tusks and their teeth are used as a powerful weapon along with their powerful body to ward off danger. The diet of a Hippopotamus mainly consists of short grass, leaves, plants, shoots, tendons, and roots, but they also hunt down buffalos and eat carcasses of other animals left by other carnivores.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, the Hippopotamus can be dangerous if provoked by human beings. They are excellent runners and can kill a human being if they try to escape an angry and irritated Hippo. Hippos have an aggressive temperament and often get into fights with other Hippos in the pod. Male Hippos pose very dangerous and have the ability to hunt down a crocodile as well as man.

Would they make a good pet?

Considering the population of Hippos, they should not be reared as pets. It is illegal to keep Hippos as pets, and they can only be found in protected areas. Hippos cannot be good pets as they are very loud and need to cool down their body temperature by dipping in water for long hours. They also mate in the water and give birth in the water. Hippos also are aggressive mammals that have enough potential to kill human beings.

Did you know...

If a male baby Hippo tries to show dominance in the pod, he is killed by the bull Hippo and the other male Hippos. Male Hippos fight and bruise each other during the mating season while finding mating partners. Male Hippos also sniff the rear body parts of the female including its urine, through which they understand that the female is ready for mating. Male Hippos also try to attract the attention of the female Hippos by spreading their feces with the help of their tails and uttering different sounds. The Hippo even looks similar in appearance to a pig and belongs to the family of whales and dolphins which is why they have a large body and massive body weight.

Is Hippo skin bulletproof?

The skin of a Hippo is around 2 in thick and is almost bulletproof. But a Hippo can be shot down if the bullet pierces its torso where the skin is thin.

What are some fun facts about Hippos?

The Hippopotamus is a semi-aquatic mammal but is unable to float or swim in the water. They can locomote in water at a speed of seven miles per hour. Hippos can hold their breath inside water for up to five minutes. They release a substance from their skin which, when exposed to the sun, looks red in color and is commonly called blood sweat. Blood sweat acts as a moisturizer that blocks the harmful rays of the sun and from causing any skin damage to the Hippo. This chemical also keeps the skin of the Hippo free from any germs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including crocodilians, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Hippo coloring pages.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.