Couple of pets are as recognizable as the hippopotamus, with its soap-bar-shaped body; good, yawning mouth; and tiny, mobile ears. These massive herbivores are aboriginal just to Africa. Their bodies are engineered to adapt to a greatly aquatic lifestyle. A hippo’s nostrils are on the top of its snout and zip themselves shut as shortly they encounter water, and its skin acts prefer a dive suit to keep the hippo warmth underwater and cool on land.

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Daily Rhythm




Life span

In the wild: 55 yearsIn captivity: 61 years

Conservation Status



Male: 2,100 to 4,400 lb (953 to 1,996 kg) Female: 2,200 to 4,000 lb (998 to 1,814 kg)


Male: 4.0 to 5.6 ft (1.3 to 1.7 m) high at shoulderFemale: 3.6 to 4.9 ft (1.1 to 1.5 m) high at shoulder


Tracks: Flat center through four deep toe marks; same-dimension front and hind tracks; finest seen on courses bring about and also from rivers Scat: Similar to elephant"s, yet hippos scatter dung commonly with their tails; frequently defecate in water




A hippo’s skin is just one of its a lot of vital organs. It’s incredibly sensitive and also solid, and also can be up to 2.4 inches (60 mm) thick. It represents 18 percent of its body weight!

Social Structure

Hippos have actually a loosened, relaxed social framework. Throughout the day, they remainder in large pods made up of both sexes of assorted eras. Group size relies on the desircapability of the habitat. Hippos choose water that is slow-relocating and also deep sufficient to cover their bodies—5- to 6-feet (1.5- to 2.0-m) deep—along sandy, open up shorelines. Preferable habitat deserve to host gatherings of even more than 200 hippos. Solitary hippos tfinish to be females acquiring all set to give birth or elderly males. Otherwise, hippos gather either in nursery schools—females and also their calves—or bachelor groups. These rules are loose, though, and members of any kind of sex or age might turn up in a team. These teams break up for evening grazing. Some adult bulls defend areas where they are the a lot of dominant member. Dominance is loosely based on size. Bulls note and also defend their territories through urine and feces, which they fling impressive ranges by waggling their tails. When a male enters an additional male’s region, he becomes submissive to that male unmuch less he inoften tends to difficulty him. When males fight for a area, they rake their teeth alengthy each other’s flanks. In spite of their thick skin, these fights deserve to lead to major injury or even fatality.


Hippos use sound and also body language to connect. They honk—both on land also and in the water. These honking calls can be practically 115 decibels (the volume of loud thunder) and can be heard a mile (1.6 km) ameans. Hippos also make assorted noises underwater—grunts, squeaks, croaks, and also whines—though the definition of all these sounds is not interpreted. The the majority of famous technique of hippo interaction is opening their mouths in impressively wide “yawns.” One possible explacountry for this behavior is that it signals excitement.


Regardless of their aquatic tendencies, hippos cannot actually swim or float. Instead, they walk alengthy the bottom of rivers and also watering holes. When entirely subcombined, they push off from the bottom to get back to the surchallenge. Hippos spend many of the day in and also out of the water. When they get cold, they move to the banks and also bask in the sun; as soon as the sun gets as well warm, they return to the water to cool dvery own and obtain out of the sunlight. Many of the night, they graze on dry land also. They tend to go back to the exact same resting places every day. In swampy areas, the channels and trails hippos make may change the flow of water. When relocating at complete tilt, hippos can reach speeds of nearly 20 miles an hour (30 kph).


Hippos live all throughout Africa—many kind of in safeguarded areas—but their populations are decreasing due to drought, poaching, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and the damming of rivers. They are poached not only for their meat but likewise for their teeth. Called “ivory,” they allegedly are softer and simpler to carve than elephant tusks. Hippos are also delicate to rinderpest, a communicable livestock disease, as well as anthrax, which is capable of killing hundreds or also thousands of hippos within an infected location. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as a delicate species.


Range & Habitat

Hippos live in grasslands and bushlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa, although a number of centuries back, they ranged as much as the Nile Delta.

Hippos require a permanent water source and adequate grass to survive. Water helps these pets control their body temperature and also protects them from scalding sunburns, so they never wander far from a water hole, lake, river, or swamp.


Aquatic plants are frequently rare in hippo habitat, so terrestrial grass renders up the majority of of a hippo’s diet, though in some locations, bushes, water lilies, and also various other plants comprise as a lot as 15 percent of what they eat. They pull up plants via their strong lips quite than through their teeth. On exceptionally rare occasions, hippos have been spotted killing and also eating wildebeest and antelopes such as impalas, or scavenging the corpses of other hippos.


Mating occurs in the time of the dry seaboy and also generally takes area in the water. Females breed through territorial males and also might visit two or more various regions over the course of their two- to three-day estrus duration. After a 240-day gestation, a mommy offers birth in the water to a (relatively) tiny calf, weighing in between 50 and also 110 pounds (25 to 45 kg). For around ten days, the calf and its mommy are solitary and also continue to be close to the water’s edge. The mother will certainly strike any kind of other hippo, consisting of a territorial male, that ideologies. After this bonding period, the mom begins to graze on the bank during the day. When the calf is a couple of weeks old, it starts to go with its mommy to the grazing grounds at night. There, the calf hides under a bush while she eats. Weaning occurs once the calf is around 6 or eight months old. Females give birth to calves around when eexceptionally two or 3 years. Calves and their mothers remain cshed also after the birth of younger siblings. Scientists have viewed mothers via as many as three calves of various ages trailing behind them. The youngest calf is always closest to the mom, while the eldest brings up the rear. Both males and also females commonly end up being sexually mature at roughly seven years of age, though females sometimes mature much earlier.

Friends & Foes

Hippo poop adds terrestrial nutrients to lakes and also rivers. It most likely acts as fertilizer and also might be a vital food resource for aquatic animals, such as fish. Many kind of birds, including oxpeckers, choose to perch on hippos’ backs and also hunt for ticks and other insects. Many type of Afrihave the right to fish “clean” hippos by plucking loose skin, parasites, and also debris from them, also swimming right into their mouths. Hippos likewise have been observed rescuing antelopes from drowning by pushing them up onto financial institutions and also intervening to conserve them from crocodiles. Ambitious prides of lions periodically hunt and kill a hippo, and also a crocodile may periodically eat a hippo calf, but grown hippos seem unfazed by crocodiles. Although hippos have actually a reputation for being one of the most dangerous pets for humans in Africa, people and also hippos frequently coexist peacefully unless plants are involved. Hippos are inveteprice crop raiders and also are only slightly discouraged by chain-connect or electric fences. Hippos deserve to attack—and regularly kill—people that encroach on their relaxing areas throughout the day or who get between mothers and also calves on land at night.

Population in Kenya & Beyond

Hippos are difficult to count accurately bereason they spend a far-reaching propercent of their time underwater, don’t surchallenge in synchrony, and come ashore mostly at night. However, scientists estimate that tbelow are in between 125,000 and also 148,000 of these pets in the wild, through the majority living in East Africa. Kenya alone has actually about 5,000 of them, and also a pod of about 25 inactions Mpala’s hippo pool.

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Did you know?

The skin of hippos secretes a reddish substance that may act as a sort of sundisplay screen and also helps cuts heal easily.