Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: hippopotamus, hippo
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Hippopotamidae
GENUS SPECIES: Hippopotamus (horse, a river) amphibius (on both sides, living) 

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Huge gray bulky body with a large head. Its facial features somewhat resemble those of a pig.
SIZE: 3.96-4.57 m. (13-15 ft.) long; 1.52 m. (5 ft.) high at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 1,800-3,600 kg (4,000-8,000 lb.)
DIET: Herbivores, prefer short grasses of the African plains
GESTATION: 8 months
SEXUAL MATURITY:
MALE At 7 yrs.
FEMALE At 9 yrs.
LIFE SPAN: 20-40 years; 50 years in captivity
RANGE: West and East Central Africa; extinct in northern and southern parts of original range
HABITAT: Rivers and lakes in grasslands; found mainly in large populations on preserves
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix II
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. 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.
2. Hippos spend most of their days in the water or wallowing in the mud, generally coming up on land to feed at night.
3. Hippos are efficient grazers - their lips are almost 70 cm. or about two feet wide!
4. 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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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.