- Common Name
- hippopotamus, hippo
- Genus Species
- Hippopotamus (horse, a river) amphibius (on both sides, living)
- Huge gray bulky body with a large head. Its facial features somewhat resemble those of a pig.
- 3.96 to 4.57 m (13 to 15 ft.) long; 1.52 m (5 ft.) high at the shoulder
- 1,800 to 3,600 kg (4,000 to 8,000 lbs.)
- Herbivores, prefer short grasses of the African plains
- 8 months
- Sexual Maturity
- Male: At 7 yrs.
Female: At yrs.
- Life Span
- 20 to 40 years; 50 years in captivity
- West and East Central Africa; extinct in northern and southern parts of original range
- Rivers and lakes in grasslands; found mainly in large populations on preserves
- Global: No data
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed
- Hippos were once thought to sweat blood. Actually, hippos secrete a pinkish colored oil that helps them keep their skin moist in the hot African climate.
- Hippos spend most of their days in the water or wallowing in the mud, generally coming up on land to feed at night.
- Hippos are efficient grazers, their lips are almost 70 cm or about two feet wide.
- Baby hippos swim the moment they are born because they are born underwater. And female hippos will actually baby-sit a group of other female's babies.
Ecology and Conservation
Hippos defecate in the water. Their dung provides essential basic elements for the food chain. Tiny microorganisms feed on it and then larger animals feed on those organisms. On land, hippos' large bodies make trails through vegetation that other animals may use for easy access to water holes. Because hippos' favorite food is short grass, they keep these grasses well trimmed which may help to deter grassfires. Hippos are an important part of the African ecosystem.
Brust, Beth W. Zoobooks: Hippos. San Diego: Wildlife Education, Ltd., 1989.
MacDonald, David (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. 2. London: George, Allen & Unwin, 1984.
Parker, Sybil P. (ed.). Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. 5. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.
Redmond, Ian. "Africa's Four-Legged Whale," Wildlife Conservation.Jan.-Feb. 1991, pp. 60-69.