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The Hippopotamus: 5 Facts that you may not know about this animal

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

We’ve all heard about Hippopotamuses, also known as “Hippos”, the giants of the African river systems… But what do you really know about this large mammal? Here are five interesting facts that will get you better acquainted with the hippo.

1. There’s often a Greek link!

The name hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek term for “river horse”, thanks mostly to the fact that these animals spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers, lakes or any type of shallow water source. Given the amount of time they spend in water, it’s obvious by now that hippos love the water, and by love, they really love soaking in water and basking under the sun. So much so that these amazing mammals secrete an oily red substance that acts as a skin moistener and sunblock.

2. Hippos can outswim and outrun you

Never assume that because of their enormous size they are therefore slow and cumbersome. They are extremely capable in the water, have dense leg bones which help them stay underwater, move very fast along the bottom and are able to hold their breath for up to 5 minutes. On land Hippos have been clocked running up to 30 km/h over short distances. Safe to say that you can never outrun or outswim a hippo.

3. They can be deadly

Hippos are aggressive by nature and are considered very dangerous. Up to 5 meters long, 1.5 meters at the shoulder and up to 4 tons in weight, they are animals who are not to be messed with. If that’s not enough, they have a wide mouth that reveals large canine tusks that can pierce steel.

Hippos attack whenever they feel that their habitat or feeding ground is threatened. Hippos will not hesitate when threatened. They are said to be the deadliest land mammal. One of the worst places you can find yourself in Africa is between a Hippo and the water

4. Hippos have large appetites

Hippos in general, are herbivores. They eat up to 40kg of grass each night and can travel up to 10 kilometers whilst grazing. They will eat fruit if it’s around.

Hippos have been seen eating carrion, which is most likely due to a lack of good grazing and nutritional stress.

5. Hippos are vulnerable species

Back in 2006, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the hippo as a vulnerable species. This means their species are likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening their survival and reproduction greatly improve. They have a population between 125,000 and 150,000 with a 7 – 20% decline. Zambia and Tanzania both house the largest populations of hippos across the globe.

As of 2018, there are also an estimated 50-70 hippos running around Columbia? Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord kept 4 of them in his private zoo back in the 80s. Since then the hippos have continued to reproduce and scatter around the area long after Escobar’s death.

In conclusion, the hippo is an animal that is to be respected, just like any animal in nature. They will keep to themselves most of the time and are one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

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