Hippos are large, round, herbivorous, and semi-aquatic mammals. . The name hippo originated from a Greek word that meant “river horse.” Hippos exist in two species: the common hippo and the pygmy hippo. In addition, Hippos mostly live in sub-Saharan Africa.
1. Hippos cannot swim
Hippos spend their time in the shallow waters where they rest on sandbars. When they get out of breath, they move from the bottom by springing in small bounds. Even though they cannot swim, they spend a lot of time in the water to protect their skin from the scorching sun.
2. They can hold their breath for about five minutes
Hippos have a thick membrane around their eyes and nostrils that prevents water from passing through them when deeply submerged in water. Since they cannot breathe in the water, they resurface 3-5 minutes to breathe. The surfacing and breathing process occurs automatically as even those sleeping will rise to breathe without waking.
3. Females hippos get pregnant for eight months
They carry their pregnancy for about 237 days which is approximately eight months. Hippos conceive one baby at a time and breastfeed them for almost a year. However, the females only mate after every two years.
4. Male hippos mark their territory
Even though male hippos are more territorial in water, they also proclaim their territory on earth. They mark the territory by rustling their tails back and forth to fling poops far and wide. They not only prevent their territory from other male hippos but also from human beings who interfere.
5. Hippos have an extremely sensitive skin
Hippos protect their hairless skin by producing natural sunscreen. This sunscreen contains pigments that change to red-orange and brown when in the sunlight, preventing their skin from drying out. The secretion produced has a strong acidic property which acts as a disinfectant against the bacteria that enter their wounds.
6. Hippos are the 3rd largest wild animal on earth
Hippo is one of the biggest animals, which is ranked third after elephant and rhino. A full-grown male hippo averagely weighs approximately 10,000 pounds while the females weigh about 3000 pounds. At birth, most baby hippos are born with around 60 pounds and approximately 600 pounds when they become fully grown. Moreover, a common hippo grows over 5 feet tall and between 10-16 feet long.
7. One dominant male for each pod
Hippos live in groups of about 30 individuals. These groups have one specific male hippo that mates with the females in the group. This group consists of a dominant male hippo, females, and their young hippos. The male must protect his territory from other male hippos. They warn others by opening their enormous mouths and displaying their canines.
8. They are extremely vocal
Hippos communicate with each other by producing loud sounds. They produce varied sounds that include growls, squeaks, whines, and honks. These sounds communicate differently. For instance, the sounds may notify others of impending danger and calling their young ones. The sounds may also signal other hippos to either move or remain still.