Hans Schoelink Description and
Characteristics: There are two species of hippopotamuses; the
Pygmy Hippo and the river or common hippopotamus. The Pygmy Hippo is the
smaller species, standing about waist-high to an adult human the common/river
hippopotamus is world's third largest and heaviest land animals, weighing up to
about 4,000 kg.
Both species of hippos have barrel-shaped bodies, short
stocky legs, and smooth almost hairless skin. Their heads appear outsized with
unusually broad mouths and their facial features resemble those of a pig.
Hippos have a short, tufted tail
Hippos have thin skin that dries out
quickly - they secrete a pinkish coloured oil that helps them keep their skin
moist in the hot African climate. Hippos spend most of their days in the water
or wallowing in the mud, generally coming up on land to feed at
River hippos are one of the most feared animals in southern
Africa. It is claimed that every year more people are killed by them than by
any other African animal.
Out of water, hippos are surprisingly fast
runners; a fully grown river hippo can run 30 km/h for a few hundred
Habits: Hippos are Herbivores, preferring short grasses of the
African plains. Their muscular lips are almost 70 cms wide which makes them
extremely efficient grazers. They generally feed during the night, grazing for
up to 5 hours before returning to the water.
Habitat: The Pygmy hippo lives in West
Africa's forest belt, primarily in Liberia and Côte dIvoire and
spends more of its time near water rather than in it, and dives beneath the
water surface only when in imminent danger of attack.
hippopotamus is found in western, central, eastern and southern parts of
Africa, living in lakes and rivers near grasslands, usually where the water is
deep and slow-flowing.
Lifespan Male hippos are generally larger and heavier than
females. Common Hippos range from 3.96 to 4.57 mtrs long, standing 1.52 mtrs at
the shoulder height and weighing between 1,800 to 3,600 kgs. They live for up
to anywhere between 20 to 40 years in the wild. Whilst Pygmy hippos grow to
about 1.75 m long, and have a maximum weight of about 275 kg
Reproduction: Males reach sexual maturity at 7
years and females at 9 years. Mating always occurs in water during the dry
season. Hippos have a gestation period of about 7 months and usually birth is
given to a single calf during the start of the raining season. River hippos of
the give birth usually in shallow water therefore calves are able to swim from
birth. The average birthing interval is about 2 years
Predators and Threats: Pygmy Hippos are very rare
in the wild, with hunting and deforestation having declined their numbers over
recent years. Hippo calves are vulnerable to attack by lions and hyenas on land
and by crocodiles in the water. People hunt hippos for their meat and hide and
also for their tusks, which are sold as ivory. They are also hunted because
they are potentially dangerous and destructive particularly in areas where
crops are grown.
Hippopotamus (Natural World S.)
Michael Leach Explore the world of a hippopotamus with this striking book
which looks at their life cycles, natural habitats, food chains and the threats
that they face. Follow a hippopotamus calf as it takes its first steps on the
African river bank. This work features an animal "map" on the opening page, an
illustrated food chain and colour photographs. Buy From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK
Wild Africa: Hippos (Wild Africa)
Blackbirch, Melissa S. Cole Examines the life of the hippopotamus, pointing
out differences between the two remaining species and the impact humans have
had, and continue to have, on these African mammals. Buy From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK