Where do hippopotamuses live?
Two hippo species are found in Africa. The large hippo, found in East Africa, occurs south of the Sahara. The other, much smaller (440 to 605 pounds) species of hippo is the pygmy hippopotamus. Limited to very restricted ranges in West Africa, it is a shy, solitary forest dweller and is now rare.
Tags: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, DRC, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, East Africa, Southern Africa, West/Central Africa, Kazungula, Samburu, Cameroon, Hippopotamus
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What is a hippo?
Hippos are the third-largest living land mammals, after elephants and white rhinos. A hippo’s foot has four webbed toes that splay out to distribute weight evenly and, therefore, adequately support it on land. The grayish body has very thick skin that is virtually hairless. The hippo has neither sweat nor sebaceous glands, relying on water or mud to keep cool. It does, however, secrete a viscous red fluid, which protects the animal’s skin against the sun and is possibly a healing agent. The hippo’s flat, paddle-like tail is used to spread excrement, which marks territory borders and indicates the status of an individual.
The surprisingly agile hippo climbs steep banks each night to graze on grass.
Hippos leave the water at night to graze for four to five hours, covering up to 5 miles of territory. They will eat about 80 pounds of food during this time. The hippo’s modest appetite is due to its sedentary life, which does not require high outputs of energy.
Unlike us, the hippopotamus does not have sweat or sebaceous glands.
Hippos must rely on water or mud to keep cool—this accounts for the amount of time it spends in the water. They do, however, secrete a viscous red fluid, which protects the animal’s skin against the sun and possibly acts as a healing agent.
Their social structures are dependent on food and water conditions.
Hippos have a flexible social system. They are usually found in mixed groups of about 15 individuals held by a territorial bull, but in periods of drought, large numbers are forced to congregate near limited pools of water. This overcrowding disrupts the hierarchical system, resulting in even higher levels of aggression, with the oldest and strongest males asserting dominance. Old scars and fresh, deep wounds are signs of daily fights.