Hippopotamus

If for Christmas only this large semi-aquatic mammal will do, you may want to think twice as these creatures are often considered the most dangerous animal in Africa!

Hippopotamuses typically weigh around 3,000-4,000 lbs (1,360-1,800 kg) but can weigh up to 8,000 lbs (3,600 kg). These highly territorial mammals live in groups, called bloats, made up of females, their offspring and a dominant male.

The name hippopotamus comes from Ancient Greek meaning “river horse”. Hippos spend most of their time in the water, their eyes, ears and nostrils are placed on top of their heads so they can see, hear and breath while their entire body is underwater.

You might think hippos are pretty good swimmers, right? Well, in fact, hippos can’t swim at all! Rather than swimming to navigate their watery homes, hippos walk along the bottom of the riverbed. An adult hippo can stay under for around 30 minutes. They even sleep underwater, a special reflex allows them to pop up and take a breath, then sink back down.

Hippos don’t sweat, but secrete an oily pink or red colored substance known as “blood sweat”, but it is neither sweat or blood. Blood sweat acts as sunblock, aids in keeping their skin moist and helps fight against infections. It also makes their bumpy skin feel like a slobbery football/basketball or a slimy avocado!

Hippopotamuses are most active at night and forage for grass on land. Relative to their size, hippos really don’t eat that much, about 80 lbs (35 kg) a day.

Hippos have large canine teeth that reach 20 inches (51 cm), and can open their mouth to a whopping 150 degrees. They mainly use their huge mouths to defend and fight against other hippos.

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