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Do You Know About a Hippo?

Shara Burger | Wildlife

There are lots of stories about hippos, many theories have elements of truth to them, but others are rather far-fetched. Here are a few interesting facts about these massive, mostly water-based mammals…… 

Hippo at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

 

  • Hippos are mainly herbivores; however, they do also eat small amounts of meat, which happens more often than you may think.  
  • Their guts and digestive processes, through evolution, have adapted to a largely plant based diet, however they are physically able to still eat meat. 
  • Hippos have huge mouths and unusual teeth, so, unlike other herbivores, they are physically able to kill prey. They are also highly aggressive and territorial, which makes it seem that they were in fact designed to be carnivores.  
  • It is presumed that hippo’s carnivorous behaviour has been so seldom reported because it would happen at nighttime when they come out to feed and there are not many humans around to witness it. 
  • Hippos are the third largest mammal found on the continent of Africa, and can you believe it: their closest living relatives are pigs, whales and dolphins. 
  • Hippos do not actually swim as we understand it, they prefer to walk, gallop or bounce along the bottom. They have very strong leg muscles which helps to propel them through the water. Sometimes when they are in deep water they are completely off the ground and can leap around, just like dolphins, in order to move about. 
  • These large cumbersome creatures are able to stay on the bottom of a body of water because of the aquatic environment, it helps with buoyancy and it also reduces the gravitational pull.  
  • Hippos are not only found in Africa. There are currently over 60 hippos living in Columbia’s waterways, introduced by the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.  

 

Hippo at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Hippo at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

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