I found it difficult to get a full hippo, as it were, because they just popped their heads up out of the water for a few moments, and then went down again. Sometimes one would disappear under the water and then re-appear totally elsewhere. They are such lumpy animals, you’d never think they could swim! A few interesting facts:
- hippos often walk along the bottom of the river bed rather than swim
- their eyes, nose and ears are all at the top of their heads so that they can remain cool in the water but still listen and watch
- they live in groups of about 15, with one dominant male
- hippos are very territorial and will enter and leave the water at the same spot, and will defend their territory agressively
- they are one of Africa’s most dangerous animals and are the third largest after white rhinos and elephants. They grow up to around 13 ft long and 5 ft high. They live for about 50 years.
- hippo calves are usually born under water. They are protected and taught by the mother hippo who will often take newborns on to dry land as frequently as possible because male hippos will attack new calves if in the water
- adult hippos can stay under water for 6 minutes
- they leave the water at dusk to graze all night, eating up to 150 lbs of grass, and will go as far as 5 miles from their river
- there used to be hippos in Egypt but they are now extinct
- hippo “sweat” is red, hence the expression “sweating blood”
- hippo means horse in Greek, and potamus means river
- they are very agile despite their bulk and can climb steep banks with no trouble; they have big 4 toes which splay out to accommodate the bulk when on dry land
Catherine Broughton is an artist and an author. More about her and her work on turquoisemoon.co.uk. Follow on Facebook!