There’s no doubt about it, the hippopotamus is an interesting animal. From their impressive size to their tendency to spend so much time in the water, the hippo is always a guest favorite. While everyone knows a hippo when they see them, there are lots of things people don’t know about this amazing semi-aquatic mammal.
1. Hippos are considered to be the second-largest land animal in the world, right after the elephant. A male hippo can actually weigh up to 3,200 kg!
2. To stay cool and keep their skin hydrated, hippos spend most of their time in the water. Because their eyes, nose, and ears are located on top of their head, they can nearly completely emerge their bodies to stay cool and still be aware of their surroundings.
3. Hippos do not have typical sweat glands, their glands actually secrete a reddish oil-like substance that helps protect their skin from drying out. This also acts as a natural sunblock to protect their sensitive skin.
4. Hippos are more active at night when it’s cooler. This is when they forage for food, which is grass and other greenery because they are actually herbivores! They can eat a lot too, downing up to 35kg a day!
5. Hippo teeth are interesting because their canines and incisors grow continuously. This is important because constant chewing on greenery wears them down. These teeth can reach around 20 inches in length and males even use them in fights.
6. Hippos are made to be in the water, with a clear membrane that covers their eyes so they can open them and see while underwater. Their nostrils also close and they can hold their breath for up to five minutes. They even sleep underwater and have a natural reflex that allows them to bop up and sink down without waking up.
7. Hippos live in groups of up to twenty. These groups are called herds and they are led by one dominant male. Only non-breeding males, females, and young hippos are allowed in the same herd.
Last but not least, the name hippopotamus comes from a Greek word that means river or water horse. But don’t be fooled, they are not related to horses, it just is a descriptive term that has stuck! You can see one of these magnificent guys on your next visit, so plan a trip today!