48. Highlighting the Hippopotamus

I certainly know one when I see one.
They eat . . .ummm . . plants, I think.
They’re big guys.
They can walk on the bottom of a riverbed.
It’s fun to say the plural — hippopotamuses.
They have twitchy ears.

Even though my bank of knowledge was already pretty impressive, I suspected there was more to learn.
Here’s what a little bit of googling got me.

Hippos are gregarious, living in groups of up to thirty animals. A group is called a pod, herd, dale, or bloat.

You should worry less about lions and Nile crocodiles and instead keep an eye out for hippos.They’re the biggest people-killers on the continent. And they give no hint as to when or why they might attack.


There are two species of hippos — the large/common hippo and the smaller relative, the pygmy hippo.

The process of surfacing every 3 – 5 minutes from the river’s floor to breathe is automatic. Even a hippo sleeping underwater will rise and breathe without waking!



Hippos can open their mouths to a massive 150 degrees to show their razor-sharp teeth, capable of biting a small boat in half.

Hippos mate in the water — with the female sometimes fully submerged. (Female hippos need a #MeToo movement.)
Hippo calves are born underwater.

Their closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago. (Never would have guessed that.)

There are a number of very informative videos on YouTube, two of which I have embedded here.
The second video (1 minute in length) will be of particular interest to any 7-year-old boys you may know.

Source: The Secrets of Nature, YouTube (Time: 5:02)
Source: Natural World, BBC, YouTube (Time: 0:53)