September 29, 2011

Facts: To Catch a Hippo

  • Although newborn hippos often weigh in at almost 100 pounds (45 kilograms) at birth, they are very fragile and require great protection from their mothers. Fortunately, hippos can nurse from their mothers either on land or underwater. They do this underwater by closing their valve-like ears and nostrils.

  • Despite their size, hippos are actually quite efficient underwater. They can hold their breath below the surface for up to five minutes.

  • When hippos are exposed to the sun, their skin actually produces an oily red substance, serving as moisturizer and sun repellant for their skin. This natural physical reaction has even led some to believe the infamous myth that hippos sweat blood.

  • There are two different hippopotamus species; the Hippopotamus amphibius, also known as the river hippo, and the Hexaprotodon liberiensis, which is far smaller in size than the river hippo.

  • Female hippopotamus would rather mate with their bull partners underwater, but they can do so on land as well.

  • Hippos travel in herds made up of bulls and cows ranging in size, and each herd has one dominant male hippo. Regularly, the dominant male hippo will use his tail to fling and scatter his own droppings as a territorial marking behavior, so as to notify the other bulls.

  • Although it may appear causal, hippos often yawn in order to impose a visual threat and warning to potential enemies or attackers.

  • If necessary, hippos can store up to two days worth of grass in their bellies and then go for as long as three weeks without eating.

  • Despite their overwhelming size and seemingly sluggish behavior, on land, hippos can reach impressive speeds of up to fourteen miles per hour (30 kilometers per hour).

  • Female hippos, otherwise known as cows, can actually give birth underwater or on land. Because newborn hippos can only hold their breath for about forty seconds, their mothers stay very close, continuously pushing them up to surface in order to help them breathe.

  • Hippos produce some of the loudest sounds among African animals. Various hippo calls have actually been recorded at 115 decibels. That’s almost like standing 15 feet away from the speakers at a rock music concert.

  • Easily able to adjust to environmental changes, warthogs can actually survive for several months without water.

  • Despite their ferocious appearance, warthogs would instinctively prefer to run away from a fight than to stay and battle, and they most often seek out dens and burrows as their refuge after retreating.

  • In order to put their powerful tusks to good use, adult warthogs usually enter dens tail first and remain that way so that they can more readily protect themselves from attackers with their tusks, and make quick escapes if necessary.

  • The unsightly bumps, or warts, on male warthog’s heads are actually masses of conveniently placed cartilage, designed to protect their faces from hard hits during scuffles.

  • Deemed as easy prey by numerous larger animals, infantile alligators typically remain by their mothers’ sides for two years after their birth.

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