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Interesting Facts about Hippopotamus

Last updated date: 02nd Mar 2024
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Learning about the Fascinating Water Creature: Hippopotamus

Large, spherical, and water-loving, hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius) are a native species of Africa. Although hippos and horses are not closely related, the word "hippopotamus" is derived from the Greek for "water horse" or "river horse." Pigs, whales, and dolphins are hippos' closest living relatives.

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, common hippos, often referred to as river hippos, are highly rotund animals and are the third largest living terrestrial mammals, behind elephants and white rhinos. Let’s dive in and learn some interesting facts about the hippopotamus.


Hippos are the third-largest living land mammal, after elephants and white rhinos. There are two species of hippos — the large/common hippo and the smaller relative, the pygmy hippo. Despite their large and bulky appearance, they have adaptations to their semi-aquatic environments allowing them to move swiftly on both water and land. Their short legs provide strong propulsion through the water, and their feet have four-webbed toes that splay out to distribute weight evenly and thus adequately support them on land.

With brownish-pink colouring around their eyes and ears, they both have skin tones that are similar to each other: slate or purple-grey. Except for the thick, bristle-like hair on their heads and tails, their extremely thick skin is nearly hairless. Their relatively thin outer layers of skin make them vulnerable to wounds from physical conflict. Excrement, which serves as a boundary marker and a status indicator, is spread by its flat, paddle-like tail. Their strong jaws can open up to 150 degrees, exposing their massive incisors.

Where does Hippopotamus Live?

Hippos can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Since they spend the majority of their time submerged to keep their skin cool and moist, they reside in locations with a lot of water.

Hippos are violent animals that can spend up to 16 hours a day in the water. They are thought to be quite hazardous. They can defend themselves against threats, even humans, thanks to their huge fangs and tusks.

Although hippos may glide through the water with ease, they cannot swim. Instead, they propel themselves off of other objects. They may also endure submersion for up to 5 minutes without coming up for air.

Hippopotamus Eating Habits 

Hippos eat a variety of foods, primarily plants. Adults consume roughly 80 pounds (35 kg) of grass every night and can travel up to 6 miles (10 km) in one night to do so. Some claims state that they also consume fruit that they come across while scavenging each night. Hippos may store food in their bellies and go up to three weeks without eating if food is in short supply.



For a long time it was thought that hippos were only herbivorous, a 2015 study in the journal Mammal Review revealed that hippos occasionally consume the carcasses of other species, including other hippos.

How Does a Hippopotamus Sound?

A hippopotamus has a variety of vocalisations. Honks, grunts, roars, squeals, and what might be described as wheezing are a few of these noises. A hippo's honk resembles someone's deep-voiced laughter. A male may honk to show that he is in charge.

In particular, when they desire something, hippos can roar. An enraged hippo may grunt and exhale in a huff in addition to roaring. A group of honking and grunting hippos can be heard up to a mile distant and at 115 dB. (1.6 kilometres away). The volume of the sound is comparable to a boisterous rock concert or an impending rainstorm.

Baby Hippopotamus 

Female hippos give birth to one child at a time throughout their eight-month gestation period. The calf weighs between 50 and 110 pounds at birth (23 and 50 kg). The calf suckles while swimming underwater or while its mother is on land for the first eight months of her life.

The calf covers its ears and nose when it dives to keep water out. This skill is shared by all hippos. Hippos likewise have membranes covering and shielding their eyes while submerged.

Baby Hippopotamus

Baby Hippopotamus


A hippo calf is fully developed when it is 5 to 7 years old. A hippo's lifespan in the wild or captivity can often range from 40 to 61 years.

Interesting Information About Hippopotamus

Let us explore a range of fascinating hippopotamus-related facts.

  • In Africa, hippopotamuses can be found.

  • Hippopotamuses who are resting in water have lower body temperatures.

  • Surprise! Cetaceans like whales and dolphins are the hippopotamus' closest relatives.

  • This family of mammals is thought to have undergone a divergent evolutionary process about 55 million years ago.

  • Despite their somewhat pudgy appearance, hippos can quickly outpace a person.

  • Hippos are notoriously vicious animals, especially when they feel threatened.

  • They are thought to be among the most dangerous animals on the continent.

  • The average lifespan of a hippo is 45 years.

  • A male hippopotamus is called a ‘bull’.

  • A female hippopotamus is called a ‘cow’.

  • A baby hippo is called a ‘calf’.

  • A group of hippos is known as a ‘herd’, ‘pod’, ‘dale’ or ‘bloat’.

  • Hippos primarily consume grass.


In this article, we learnt that hippopotamuses, commonly referred to as "river horses," are found in sub-Saharan Africa among rivers and lakes. The hippo is the second-heaviest terrestrial animal behind the elephant, weighing up to 8,000 pounds. Hippos spend the day in the water to escape the heat and come ashore at night to eat short, soft grasses and rotting fruit. A hippopotamus has eyes and ears on top of its head, allowing it to keep an eye out for predators, primarily crocodiles while lying low in the water. Due to habitat degradation, these giants are currently in danger.

FAQs on Interesting Facts about Hippopotamus

1. Is the colour of hippopotamus milk pink?

Pink-coloured milk is generated by hippopotamus females. This is because they produce two different types of acids. Hipposudoric acid and nor hipposudoric acid are these acids. The former is an orange tint, whereas the latter, sometimes known as blood sweat, is a red colour. Both of these acids serve as hippos' sunscreen, protecting them from UV rays. The breastfeeding hippo will produce white milk, but when the aforementioned acids are combined, the milk takes on a pink hue.

2. Where is the hippopotamus found?

Hippopotamus are mainly found in Africa. The hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius), one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, is a sizable, primarily herbivorous mammal found in sub-Saharan Africa (the other is the pygmy hippopotamus). The meaning of "river horse" in ancient Greek is where the name originates.

3. Are Hippopotamus amphibious and herbivorous?

Yes. The hippopotamus is a large, herbivorous mammal. It can stay partially submerged in water as well as on land and so is amphibious. They can spend about 16 hours per day in the water.