Hippopotamus

  1. Homepage
  2. Species Guide
  3. Mammals
  4. Hippopotamus

Scientific Name: Hippopotamus Amphibius

Unmistakable large mammal which inhabits the waterways of Africa.

Characteristics

Distribution
Once found in most of Africa’s waterways, hippo populations are now concentrated and conserved in the protected parks and game reserves.

Social Structure
Hippo live in pods of between five and twenty individuals. The pod will fall under the rule of a dominant male who will mark his territory along pathways by scattering dung on bushes and shrubs. The marking act is achieved by the alpha male flicking his tail across his backside. Hippo will also do this in water. The male hippo will protect his territory ruthlessly from intruders.

Range Differentiation
No major differentiation throughout its range.

Habitat
Found in the waterways of Africa; areas must carry sufficient water for submersion and there must be a good food source. Hippos are known to walk up to thirty kilometres a night in search of grazing.

Feeding
Despite their huge teeth hippos are grazers, walking up to thirty kilometres a night to find food during dry times. Hippo can eat up to forty kilograms of food a night. When grass is scarce hippo have been known to other foods such as sausage tree fruits.

Hippos do not move in pods to graze. They may be seen in close proximity to each other when food is concentrated but generally they dine alone.

Breeding
Many visitors have wondered at a very strange noise, usually at night, emanating from the bush. It sounds painful, tired and stressed all at once. This is the sound of the mating hippo. The sound has even been described as wheeze-honking.

Hippo mate in water and will give birth on land, keeping their calf hidden for up to two weeks before introducing it to the pod. Their gestation period is approximately eight months.

Life of Hippos

A young hippo will stay with its mother for a few weeks before been brought into the pod.
Hippo charging towards safety(water)

Hippo will head for the water at the first sign of danger.
Male hippo fighting

Territorial fights of male hippo can be deadly if one does not back down.

Hippos supposedly kill more humans in Africa than any other species. When on the attack, they are known to overturn boats and bite canoes in half.

Although hippos have huge teeth they are solely grazers. They use their teeth in dominance displays and fighting, the results of which can be seen in the scarring on many individuals.