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Hippo - did you know

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Hippo - did you know



Hippopotamus amphibius


  • lives in sociable groups called rafts.
  • Rafts are usually composed of cows and young of various ages with a dominant bull in control.
  • A hippo calf will not be introduced to the raft for the first 10 to 40 days. Calves begin grazing at 5 months and are fully weaned at 12 months
  • Spends most of the day lying in water, to protect their sensitive skin from dehydrating and sunburn which cracks their skin. During winter months and cooler days they will bask in the sun on sand- or mudbanks.


  • An overheated hippo looks as if it is sweating blood as glands in his skin secrete a red fluid that acts as a natural sunscreen.
  • Males are bigger than females and males have massive canines and incisors adapted for fighting. Those of females will stay smaller.


  • Hippos emerge at night to feed. Walks 3-5 km during nightly foraging but if food supplies are low they can travel up to 30 km in one night. They will return to the water before dawn.
  • An adult hippo can remain under water for about 5 min. on a single breath.
  • A sleeping hippo will rise to breathe. A sign of a sleeping hippo in the water is when only the nostrils break the surface before it submerges again.
  • By defecating in the water hippos inject important quantities of energy and nutrients into the aquatic food chains.

  • Males will fight over territories and females.
  • Grazers, eats grasses.
  • Apart from whales and dolphins, hippo are the only mammal that mate in the water.


  • The biggest threat to hippo's is drought. As hippo's pack together in the remaining pools, many get injured or killed in fights for space.


  • One of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Can be extremely dangerous when provoked. Has caused many human fatalities, most human deaths occur when the victim gets between the hippo and deep water or between a mother and her calf.
  • Shoulder height : 1,5 m







Wild Ways – Peter Apps 

Beat about the Bush – Trevor Carnaby

Safari Companion - Richard D. Estes

Behaviour guide to African mammals - Richard D. Estes

Kingdon Field Guide to African mammals - Jonathan Kingdon




Did you know...