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Great African Hippopotamus image
Great African Hippopotamus

Great African Hippopotamus

(Mammal)

Great African Hippopotamus Baby
Great African Hippopotamus Baby

Great African Hippopotamus Habits

The hippopotamus usually lives in groups of 15-20 animals, although the groups can be much larger. The hub of the group is the band of females and their young. This group lives on territory patrolled by a dominant, solitary male who is at least 20 years old. A dominant male is able to defend his territory for as long as 10 years, until a fierce fight with a younger rival male may end his dominance - and even result in his death. Young males who do not have their own groups form small bachelor groups. If a male successfully challenges a rival, he leaves the bachelor group and becomes the dominant male in his new territory.

Great African Hippopotamus Communication

Hippopotamuses do indeed communicate with each other, and they do so rather loudly. Hippos appear to communicate verbally, through grunts and bellows, and it is believed that they may practice echolocation, but the purpose of these vocalizations is currently unknown.

Hippos are able to hold their head partially above the water and send out a cry that travels through both water and air. Other hippos both above and under water will respond.

In a series of noises that are called grunts, chuffs, and honks, hippopotamuses communicate with one another to ward off predators. Their noises have been recorded at levels of 113 or more decibels. Thatís about as loud as a jet engine, or a Marilyn Manson concert if youíre standing close to the stage.

Great African Hippopotamus Breeding

When a female is ready to mate, she will seek out an adult male. After approximately 34 weeks, the female leaves the group and gives birth to a single young. Sometimes the young is born underwater, and it must surface quickly to take its first breath.

Within 5 minutes of birth, the young hippo can swim and walk. The mother suckles the young hippo for only 8 months, although it remains with her for several years. A female is often seen with several young following her; the youngest walking closest and the oldest following at the end.

Great African Hippopotamus Food & Feeding

The hippopotamus spends up to 18 hours a day in the water keeping cool. It feeds during the hours following sunset. With the exception of mothers and their offspring, the animals leave the water singly to make their way along well-worn paths to their feeding grounds. If the hippo finds a wallow of muddy water, it may remain immersed in it for much of the day. It may feed in the new area rather than returning to its usual feeding ground. For such a large animal, the hippo eats surprisingly little - about 90 pounds a night. This is partly because it stays submerged in water most of the time, which uses up little energy.

Great African Hippopotamus Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: 5 feet. Length: 10-11 feet
              Weight: Males 3,300-7,000 lb. Females up to 3,300 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Males, 7 years (though do not usually breed until age 20). Females, 9 years
             Mating: Birth Season: Coincides with rainy season
             Gestation: 240 days
             Number of young: Single Young
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Sociable, living in groups of 10-20, but can be up to 150
            Diet: Grasses
            Lifespan: 45-50 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Because it loses water through its skin much faster than other mammals, a hippo can not survive for long on dry land in hot weather.
  • A hippo can stay under water for up to 5 minutes and often walks along the bottom of lakes.
  • Turtles, birds, and even young crocodiles often bask in the sun on the backs of hippos.
  • The term "sweating blood" comes from the hippo's function of secreting a pink fluid from glands beneath its skin.
  • To mark their territory, hippos spin their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area.

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