Young hippo half peeking out of the water

Hippopotamus

underwater walker

Type

Image of a giant panda

Mammals

Area

Map of Africa

Africa

Endangered Status

Threatened

facts

size
5 feet tall
at the shoulder
An average refrigerator is 5.8 feet (70 inches) tall.
Hippo next to a large refrigerator
food
plants
grass
Herbivore
plant-based diet
habitat
water
Fresh water habitat

Hippos live in rivers and lakes.

description

A baby hippo "smiles" for the camera underwater with its mother

River horse?

The name "hippopotamus" comes from Greek words meaning "water or river horse." But hippos are not related to horses at all! Their closest living relatives may be pigs or whales and dolphins.

Hippo grunting
Baby hippo peeking its head out of rippled water

A hippo is built for life in the water: its eyes, ears, and nostrils are on top of the head. The hippo can see, hear, and breathe while most of its body is underwater.

Baby hippo and its mother walking under water

Water ways

Hippos don't float. They also don't swim the way you do. They move around in the water by pushing off the bottom of the river with their feet. If you saw it underwater, it would look like the hippo was walking or running. If they need to, adult hippos can hold their breath for up to five minutes.

Baby hippo eating grass with its mouth wide open

Great big grazers

Hippos eat the short grass that grows near their watery homes. They leave the water at dusk to graze. Sometimes they travel as far as 5 miles to find enough grass. They usually return to the water to avoid the heat of the sun. But if they get caught out in the sun, they have a special kind of skin protection. A thick, red goo called "blood sweat" oozes out of their pores. It works like sunscreen, and may even keep cuts and scratches from getting infected.

quiz

Hippos move through the water by:
swimming
walking