10 Fascinating Facts About Hippos

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  1. Hippos can’t swim or float! They walk or stand on surfaces below the water like sandbanks. Even so, they spend most of the day in water to protect their sensitive skin from the sun.
  2. They secrete an oily red substance that acts as a moisturiser, sunblock and protects them from germs. This also makes them look like they are sweating blood.
  3. Although hippos can hold their breath for approximately seven minutes, most adult hippos resurface every three to five minutes to breathe. This is an automatic process – even sleeping hippo surface to breathe without waking.
  4. Hippos can close their nostrils and ears to prevent water from entering. This is why hippo calves can suckle on land or underwater.
  5. An open mouth is not a yawn but rather assign to warn you off. You will only see hippo ‘yawning’ while in the water because they are only territorial while in the water. You will also hear them ‘honking’ and ‘grunting’ which how they mark their territory.
  6. A hippo can live for up to 40 years.
  7. Hippos usually come out of the water for four to five hours at night to graze and can cover up to 10km in this time. Their diet consists of grass and they graze using muscular lips.
  8. The hippo is considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and it is highly aggressive, particularly if you get between it and the water. Their canine teeth (sharp teeth) are used for fighting.
  9. The hippo’s closest living relatives are whales and porpoises!
  10. The hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal after the elephant and white rhino.

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