Monday, June 11, 2012


Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the "river horse." Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in water, good swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. However, they are often large enough to simply walk or stand on the lake floor, or lie in the shallows. Their eyes and nostrils are located high on their heads, which allows them to see and breathe while mostly submerged.

Hippos also bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs.
At sunset, hippopotamuses leave the water and travel overland to graze. They may travel 6 miles (10 kilometers) in a night, along single-file pathways, to consume some 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of grass. Considering their enormous size, a hippo's food intake is relatively low. If threatened on land hippos may run for the water—they can match a human's speed for short distances.

Hippo calves weigh nearly 100 pounds (45 kilograms) at birth and can suckle on land or underwater by closing their ears and nostrils. Each female has only one calf every two years. Soon after birth, mother and young join schools that provide some protection against crocodiles, lions, and hyenas.
Hippos once had a broader distribution but now live in eastern central and southern sub-Saharan Africa, where their populations are in decline.

The group of hippos is led by one large male. The other members are females, their young, and a few young adult males. The leader of the group keeps control of his mating territory by fighting off rivals. When a male hippo in the group challenges him, the leader opens his enormous mouth, revealing long canines.

Often the display is enough to make the challenging hippopotamus back off. Sometimes, however, hippos fight aggressively, leading to deep wounds and sometimes even death. The family group of hippos spends most of the day in the water. Staying submerged helps a hippo stay cool in the hot, tropical climate where it lives.

The scientific name for the common hippo is Hippopotamus amphibious.
Hippopotamus comes from two Greek words that mean river horse.
Hippos' toes are webbed, which helps them paddle through the water.

Female hippos are able to have babies at about seven years old.
Baby hippos are born underwater. They can swim almost from the moment they're born.

Hippos can live to be more than 40 years old in the wild.
Hippopotamuses are aggressive, do not fear humans, and are considered one of Africa's more dangerous animals.
Lions, crocodiles, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs often kill baby hippos, but adult hippos are rarely attacked.

The only land animals larger than hippos are elephants and rhinoceroses.


life span in the wild:Up to 40 yearsSize:Head and body, 9.5 to 14 ft (2.8 to 4.2 m); tail, 13.75 to 19.75 inches (35 to 50 cm)

Weight:5,000 to 8,000 lbs (2,268 to 3,629 kg)

Group name:School

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