Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius) are large, round, water-loving animals that are native to Africa. The word 'hippopotamus' comes from the Greek word for 'water horse' or 'river horse,' although hippos and horses aren't closely related.
World Hippo Day on February 15 is dedicated to celebrating these mud-loving mammals and encouraging people to take action to prevent its extinction.
But did you know that before 1909, scientists placed hippos in the same group as pigs? Hippopotamuses resemble pigs or wild boars on the outside, but they are actually more closely related to whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
Just like the above-mentioned fact, there are quite a few interesting facts about the gigantic mammal.
Here are 10 fun facts about hippos that will definitely blow your mind:
1. Native to Africa, hippos are the third largest mammals on earth. Elephants and White Rhinos are the two largest land mammals.
2. The two most widely known species of the hippopotamus are the common hippopotamus, or Hippopotamus amphibius. These hippos can measure 6 to 16 feet long. The pygmy hippo, or Choeropsis liberiensis, a smaller species of hippopotamus, is on average 5 feet long.
3. No wonder their nickname is “river horse”! Hippos are strong swimmers and can hold their breath for an average of 5 minutes. That’s long enough to take walks along lakebeds and riverbed floors.
4. Hippos are threatened animals due to human activity impacting their environment.
5. Hippos, the third largest mammal on earth, are herbivores. They fuel their bodies with plants! On average, they eat 80 pounds of grass each night.
6. The gestation period of a hippo is 243 days (eight months). And the baby hippos are called calves, and they weigh between 30 and 50 pounds when they’re born.
7. Hippos are most active at night. They leave their resting waters near dusk and return in the morning.
8. Hippos produce their own sunblock! Sub-Saharan Africa, where the sun’s UV rays are incredibly strong, has made hippos adapt and develop an ability to produce a red, oily liquid that acts as a natural sunblock.
9. Fascinatingly, hippos can identify a friend from a foe by smelling their dung – or poop! Hippos use middens, or outdoor areas where they repeatedly go to the bathroom. Hippos can then sniff the area to find out who’s been there, and if they’re considered friends.
10. Hippos serve an integral role in their ecosystems, as their enormous size lends itself to creating microhabitats for smaller organisms. They facilitate habitats for fish populations by repeatedly walking on common pathways from water sources to inland areas.
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