Photo: Roger de la Harpe/Shutterstock

Watch a Massive Hippo Swim Frighteningly Fast to Chase Tourists

by Matador Creators Jan 25, 2023

Hippos are one of the most iconic and recognizable animals in Africa, often found in its rivers and lakes. Although these mammals are mostly known for their size and strength, many people don’t realize that hippos can swim surprisingly fast, as evidenced by this viral TikTok video. But how can they move so fast in the water?

@matadornetwork Who knew hippos could run so fast in the water 😳 🦛 🎥 @miami_vybe305 #hippos #hippotok #wildlife #hippopotamus #wildlifeoftiktok ♬ original sound – Sickickmusic

Hippos may be huge animals — some adults can weigh up to four tons — but they can still move with surprising speed when they enter the water. Young hippos are especially quick; according to some studies, they can swim as fast as 8 miles per hour. That’s about the same speed as a human running at a full sprint.

Adult hippos aren’t quite so speedy. Usually, they only reach speeds of around 4–5 miles per hour. However, even this reduced speed is still incredibly impressive for such a large animal. And it means that if you ever find yourself in a situation where a hippo is chasing you on land or in the water, you’ll need to run as fast as you can.

So why exactly do hippos move so quickly when they enter the water? The answer lies in their physiology. For starters, their bodies are adapted for swimming; they have webbed feet and powerful muscles that allow them to propel themselves through the water with ease. But perhaps most importantly of all, hippos have an organ called a “drag pad” located near their bottom jaw which helps reduce drag when they move through the water. This drag pad works like a kind of rudder or steering wheel, helping keep them pointed straight while also reducing friction between their body and the surrounding water. This makes it easier for them to move quickly without expending too much energy.

Hippos will also submerge themselves underwater for periods of time as part of their natural defense mechanisms. They’re able to hold their breath for up to five minutes at a time and can even sleep underwater by taking short naps while still submerged beneath the surface. This ability allows them to escape from potential predators who may be on land or in the water.

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