Are Hippos Nocturnal?
Why is it we see hippos wandering around and grazing at night? Are they night creatures like owls? Today's tidbit reveals that the seemingly nocturnal hippo might very well have adapted this behavior simply to avoid threatening predators... us.
Its believed that hippos graze at night to avoid the harsh sun beating down on their sensitive skin. Most books that describe hippo behavior tell you the same, and seasoned rangers will share that fact as well. But some studies and data collection hint that hippos that have never been exposed to the threat of humans live a little differently. In areas where the hippos feel completely secure they are often seen grazing during the day and basking in the sun. This tends to make us wonder if the nocturnal behavior could be to avoid human contact. By grazing at night the contact is limited, and during the day the hippo is capable of hiding in dense reed beds and very narrow areas of water, avoiding the people that have invaded his habitat. Group sizes of hippos are also affected by the habitat changes. Depending on the resources available, both water and food, the hippo group adapts by staying smaller or moving often. Man made dams and artificial pans have also affected the range and size of hippo groups. As we watch the lone hippo make his way through the view on our cams at night, is it simply a learned behavior based on humans being too close for comfort? While this thought is not a widely accepted theory, it is something to think about. In the mean time, we'll keep watching these large and dangerous animals as they wander the land and sleep in the water, and maybe wonder just a little bit whether or not over the years our presence has indeed changed their daily lives.