At first glance, this huge animal seems extremely awkward. However, anyone who has seen a hippopotamus in the water will deny this assumption. Despite how much a hippopotamus weighs, it becomes very graceful, fast, and even beautiful in the water. What kind of animal is it, where does it live and what are its habits? Answers to these questions can be found below.
The name of the animal comes from two ancient Greek words: horse and river. It is not difficult to understand that you can call him a river horse. However, hippo has nothing in common with horses. As with the pigs with which they are often compared. His closest relative, surprisingly, is the whale.
Long ago, about 60 million years ago, the planet was inhabited by the great-grandparents of modern animals. At a certain moment, some of them remained on land, and some plunged into water. It happened about 55 million years ago. Despite the fact that hippos chose dry land, life without water is unthinkable for them, and it is needed far from only to quench their thirst.
Generally, this mammal belongs to the order of artiodactyls and belongs to the family of behemoths. Among the land animals, it is the second largest after elephants. Males reach from 3.2 to 4.2 meters in length. How much does a hippopotamus weigh in such a body? About 1.5-3.2 tons. Females are smaller - they grow up to 2.7 meters in length, while they weigh only 2.5 tons.
In addition to the average, there is a record weight hippo. Maximum, known to man, is 4 tons. This male is a real giant. The skin of the animal is very thick, up to 5 centimeters. She is going to thick folds in the neck and chest. The body of the hippopotamus is a squat, huge mouth has a deep incision. Newborn hippos are pink, while adults are already grayish-brown. On the skin hair is not available.
Hippos grow to a height of one and a half meters. By maturity, large specimens can reach 165 centimeters. The tail is about 50-55 cm. Despite how much a hippo weighs, it runs fast enough - it can reach speeds of up to 30 km / h. Unfortunately, its dimensions do not allow marathons to take place, but a distance of 5-6 hundred meters with such speed is quite accessible.
The hippopotamus body structure is unique, it is created for a long stay in the water. The eyes, ears, and nostrils are high to stay on the surface even when the entire animal is immersed in liquid. This gives the hippo the opportunity to observe the surroundings, while escaping from sunburn.
Jaws open at an angle of 150 degrees. In the open mouth perfectly visible wonderful teeth of the animal. The height of the canines is about 50 centimeters, the incisors rise from the gum by only 30 centimeters. The upper incisors are short, while the canines continue to grow throughout the life of the animal. Each of these colossal teeth weighs up to three kilograms. Baby teeth are replaced by permanent about a year.
Interestingly, hippos cannot live without water - their skin dries out and becomes covered with painful cracks. That is why the giants try to spend as much time in the water.
Actually, considering how much a hippopotamus weighs, one can say that it has no natural enemies. Even a hungry crocodile will not attack a hippopotamus, although the reason for this is unknown - a large alligator could easily cope with a teenage hippo.
The nature of hippos is very aggressive. There are frequent cases when they attacked a man - smashed or overturned a boat. Despite all this, the number of species decreases. Only in the last 15 years, Africa has decreased by 10% of these animals. Currently, only about 150 thousand hippos are left.
Despite government bans, the animal continues to shoot and in our days. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the aborigines believe that this is a harmful and unnecessary animal that represents a danger to humans. Secondly, it has tasty and very nutritious meat. Mainly due to these reasons, hippos are getting smaller every day.
At the beginning of the last century, these animals were found almost throughout Africa: from the mouth of the Nile to Cape Town. Today, it is not often possible to see hippos in the eastern or central part of the continent. However, even these meetings often occur in national parks guarding this species of mammals.
During the daytime, animals sleep in the water. They begin to search for food with the arrival of darkness. They return to the reservoir just before dawn. Each hippopotamus has a personal path, on which he gets to pasture. The weight of the hippopotamus, an average of 3 tons, is gained through nourishing grass and aquatic plants.
Lifespan and reproduction
The average lifespan of a hippo is 40-50 years. When kept in zoos, they can live up to 60 years. She lived Tanga longer than other relatives - she spent 61 years at the Munich Zoo. Currently in America there is an aged Donna Hippo, who is 60 years old.
Sexual maturity occurs in females by 5 years. They can produce offspring up to 55. Males reach puberty by 7-8 years. Carrying babies lasts 8 months. The next conception is possible only after 18 months. Animals mate under water. There is the appearance of a small hippo. Weight at birth it is only from 25 to 45 kg. A baby is born about 100 cm long, 50 cm high.
As soon as he was born, the baby floats to the surface and inhales the air. On land, childbirth is rare, females prepare for it in advance, trampling down the ground in the supposed “birthing room”. Most often one baby is born, twins are extremely rare. Cubs feed on mother's milk for about a year, from which the weight of a small hippopotamus grows very quickly, because milk has a high fat content. Plunging into the water for feeding, kids close their nostrils and tightly press their ears to their heads to avoid water.
In search of food, animals can move up to 8 kilometers from water bodies. On pasture you have to spend at least 4-5 hours to maintain the giant weight of the hippopotamus. An adult hippo is able to consume about 70 kg of vegetation per day. In rare cases, they can eat carrion, but this only happens when there is a shortage of food.
The width of the trenches in which animals make their way to pastures is equal to its thickness. Hippos are very jealously guarding their territory, they even divide water spaces. The main male has a stretch of shore, reaching up to 250 meters in length. Up to 15 females live with it along with the cubs of the last year. Grown up males form their own groups.
Although the natives do not see the benefits of these animals, they have a significant impact on the environment of the reservoirs and even on the lives of people inhabiting this area. It has long been proven that phytoplankton actively increase in the reservoirs in which hippos live, increasing the biological productivity of living creatures. That is, the more hippos there are in the lake, and the more lakes in the area, the greater the number of associated living creatures, such as fish, can be found here. And the more this living creatures, the more and more diverse the food of the people living nearby.
The average weight of males and females
Hippos males are significantly heavier and taller than females. At the beginning of development, females are ahead of males in weight, however, after puberty, their growth stops completely, but males continue to grow and develop for many more years. The female has an average weight that can vary from 1.5 to 3 tons. The average weight of a male hippo is 2.5 tons. However, there are individuals reaching up to 4.5 tons. Their length can reach up to 4.5 m, of which 50 cm falls on the flattened tail, and the height of hippos to the shoulder is 1.5 m. The width and length of the animal is often the same. Despite the fact that this African giant is so big, it can accelerate to 48 km / h!
Hippo has a wide, flat and very large head, whose weight is 450 kg. The giant's mouth, in which there are 44 teeth, opens up to 120 cm. Over time, powerful tusks are formed from the canines, which can be 65 cm. The strength of a hippopotamus bite with such tusks is up to 0.5 tons! The nostrils, eyes and ears are very prominent above the muzzle, so that hippos can remain above the water during the dive. Interestingly, the Nile hippo is recognized as the thickest skinned animal on the planet. The thickness of the skin of the hippopotamus comes to 2.5 cm, while in the rhino it is 2 cm, and in the elephant it is 1.8 cm!
Experts examined the life expectancy of hippos and found that in the wild they live no more than 40 years. In good conditions, held in captivity, these unpretentious giants can live up to 60 years.
The weight of newborn hippos
Newborn hippos weigh an average of 40 kg, their mass can vary from 25 to 60 kg. In length, newborns reach one meter, and in the shoulders about 50 cm. Immediately after birth, the young hippopotamus is able to stay on their feet and push off from the bottom of the reservoir. This moment is important because feeding the hippopotamuses passes under water. For the first weeks, the young feed exclusively on mother's milk, after which plant foods are added to their diet. Females take care of their brood with special care, therefore in the first few days they do not allow their relatives to the baby. During nightly land walks, the cub follows the mother wherever she goes.
What is the difference between hippo and hippo?
The Latin name Hippopotamus is borrowed from the ancient Greek language, where the animal was called “river horse”. Such a name was given by the ancient Greeks to a giant beast that lived in fresh water and capable of making sounds that resemble horse neighing. In Russia, as well as in a number of CIS countries, hippos are usually called hippopotamus, and this name has biblical roots. The word behemoth in the book of Job is one of the monsters, the embodiment of carnal desires. But, by and large, hippo and hippo are one and the same animal.
Initially, pigs were considered the closest relatives of hippos, but studies in 2007 showed closely related connections between hippopotamuses and whales, determined by a number of common characteristics, such as the ability to give birth and nourish the young under water, the absence of sebaceous glands, the presence of a special signaling system for communication and the structure of reproductive organs.
Photo by: Kabacchi
Hippopotamus - description, description, structure.
Due to the peculiar appearance of the hippopotamus is difficult to confuse with any other animal. Hippopotamuses are distinguished by a giant barrel-shaped body, and by its dimensions the hippopotamus competes with the white rhinoceros and is slightly smaller in size to the elephant. After the elephant, the hippopotamus (like the rhinoceros) is the second largest animal on land. The hippopotamus grows throughout life, at the age of 10 years, the hippos of both sexes weigh almost equally, then the males begin to build up a lot more intensely than the females, and then a distinction between the sexes appears.
Hippo's massive body ends with such short legs that when walking the belly of the beast almost touches the ground. On each leg there are 4 fingers, at the ends of which there is a peculiar hoof. There are membranes between the fingers, thanks to which the hippopotamus swims well and does not sink, walking on the swampy soil.
The tail of an ordinary hippopotamus, growing to 56 cm, thick at the base, round, gradually narrows and becomes almost flat by the end. Due to this tail structure, the hippopotamus is able to spray its droppings for a considerable distance, right up to the treetops, marking individual territories in such an unusual way.
Photo by: 3268zauber
The huge head of the hippopotamus makes up a quarter of the total body weight, and in an ordinary hippopotamus it can weigh almost a ton. The anterior part of the skull is slightly blunt, and in profile it has the shape of a rectangle. The ears are small, very mobile, the nostrils are dilated, protruding upwards, the eyes are small, sinking in fleshy eyelids.
The ears, nostrils, and eyes of the hippopotamus are set high and are located on the same line, thanks to which the animal is almost completely submerged in water, while continuing to breathe, watch and listen. In dwarf hippopotamuses, the eyes and nostrils protrude beyond the limits of the head not as strongly as in the ordinary.
Photo by: Picasa
A male hippopotamus can be distinguished from a female by pineal blooms, which are located on the side of the nostrils. These bulges are the bases of the large canines of the male. In addition, the females are a little bit smaller than the males, and the females head is smaller in relation to the body.
The muzzle of the hippopotamus is wide, dotted in front with short, hard vibrissae. The giant mouth opens, forming an angle of 150 degrees, and the width of the powerful jaws of an ordinary hippopotamus is 60-70 cm.
Author 2nd photo: Quartl
In the ordinary hippopotamus 36 teeth, covered with yellow enamel, among which are very distinguished canines and incisors. Total on each jaw of the hippopotamus there are 6 molars, 6 forerooted, 2 canines and 4 incisors, in the dwarf hippopotamus of incisors only 2. Males have especially developed sharp sickle-shaped canines with longitudinal furrow located on the lower jaw. As the animal grows, the fangs are more and more bent back. Some hippos canines reach a length of more than 60 cm and weigh up to 3 kg. With the loss of the opposite canine of the upper jaw, physiological grinding is impossible, and the canines grow up to 80 cm, and sometimes more than 1 meter in length, piercing the animal's lip and making it difficult to eat.
Photo by: Nevit Dilmen
Author photo: Tambako The Jaguar
A hippopotamus is an extremely thick-skinned animal, the skin is thin only at the base of the tail, and the skin is 4 cm thick throughout the body. The color of the back of a hippopotamus is gray or gray-brown. The belly and the areas around the eyes and ears are pink. There is practically no wool, with the exception of short bristles on the tip of the tail and ears. Very rare, barely noticeable wool grow on the sides and abdomen.
Photo by: Pbrundel
There are no sweat or sebaceous glands in hippopotamuses, but there are special skin glands characteristic only of these animals. In the intense heat on the skin of a hippopotamus a red slimy secret appears, therefore, it seems that the animal is covered in bloody sweat. In addition to protection from ultraviolet radiation, the red secret serves as an antiseptic, healing numerous wounds that regularly appear on the body of animals. Also the red sweat of the hippopotamus repels bloodsucking insects.
Obesity and awkwardness of an animal can be deceptive - the speed of a hippopotamus can reach 30 km / h. An adult animal makes only 4-6 breaths per minute, so that the hippopotamus can dive and remain without air for up to 10 minutes.
Communicating communication is very characteristic of hippopotamuses: with the help of a voice resembling grunting, roaring, or horse neighing, animals express their emotions and transmit signals both on the shore and in the water. The posture of submission, with the head lowered, is expressed by weak hippos, getting in sight of the dominant male. Spraying litter and urine is a very important way of marking personal territory. Heaps of feces, which are 1 m high and 2 m wide, hippopotamus marks individual paths and daily renews peculiar beacons.
Types of hippos, names and photos.
Of the currently existing species, only 2 species of hippopotamuses are distinguished (the remaining species are extinct):
- Common Hippo, or hippo (Latin Hippopotamus amphibius). It belongs to the genus of hippos. The length of an ordinary hippopotamus is not less than 3 meters, some hippos grow in length to 5.4 m. The height at the shoulders can reach 1.65 m. The average weight of the hippopotamus is about 3 tons, the mass of individual specimens can reach 4.5 tons. The difference in weight of males and females is about 10%.
- Pygmy hippohe Liberian pygmy hippo or pygmy hippo (lat. Hexaprotodon liberiensis, Choeropsis liberiensis). It belongs to the genus of dwarf hippos and also has the names mwe-mwe or nigbwe. Dwarf behemoth looks similar to an ordinary one, but differs in longer limbs, a pronounced neck, smaller skull size and one pair of incisors in the mouth (for an ordinary 2 pairs). The back has a slight bend forward, and the nostrils are raised not so much. Dwarf hippos grow in length to 150-177 cm and have a height of 75-83 cm. Pygmy hippo weighs 180-225 kg. Protective secret on the surface of the body is pink. At home, dwarf hippos are threatened by poaching, deforestation, and hostilities in the habitat of these hippos.
Where do hippos live?
Common hippos live in Africa along the banks of freshwater bodies in the territories of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and other countries south of the Sahara desert. In the wild, hippos live no more than 40 years, in captivity up to 50 years. The oldest female contained in the American Zoo lived 60 years.
Карликовые бегемоты также живут только на одном континенте, в Африке, в таких странах, как Либерия, Гвинейская Республика, Сьерра-Леоне и Республика Кот-Д’Ивуар.
Автор фото: Mark Edwards
Что едят бегемоты (гиппопотамы)?
Традиционно гиппопотамов причисляли к травоядным животным, но по последним сведениям, некоторые экземпляры склонны к проявлению хищничества. The lack of minerals and salts forces hippos to attack antelopes, gazelles, cows and also to eat carrion.
Hippo stabs its teeth into the flesh of a murdered relative
And this hippo decided to eat antelope
According to experts, the diet of Uganda hippos contains about 27 species of near-water and terrestrial vegetation, while hippopotamuses do not eat aquatic plants at all. They bite off the grass with hard lips at the very root, eating from 40 to 70 kg of plant mass per day. Due to the long intestine of an ordinary hippopotamus (up to 60 m), the food eaten is absorbed many times better than that of similar large elephants. Accordingly, the food behemoth required 2 times less. Hippos are engaged in food search, mainly at night.
Pygmy hippos feed on various plants, fruits, ferns, and grass.
Common hippos are social animals and are kept in small herds of 20-30 individuals, although sometimes colonies reach 200 heads. At the head of the herd is the dominant male, who has to constantly prove his right to the harem. In the fight for the female, between the hippos there are fierce fights, when opponents tear each other's fangs, which often ends in the death of a weaker rival. Therefore, the skin of the hippopotamus is completely riddled with scars of varying degrees of freshness.
Photo by: Nilsrinaldi
If an ordinary hippopotamus is a gregarious animal that protects its territory, then the pygmy hippopotamus, like the tapir, keeps itself apart, is non-aggressive towards its fellow tribesmen and does not seek to protect personal possessions. Although sometimes you can see a couple of hippos who live together.
Photo author: Vogelfreund
Water from the body of the hippopotamus evaporates very quickly, so the hippos spend most of their lives in the water, going ashore only at night to search for food. Dwarf hippos spend more time on the shore than ordinary ones, but daily and regular baths are also important for their skin so that the skin does not dry out or crack. Mostly, hippos live near fresh water, although occasionally these animals were seen in the sea.
The structure of the hippopotamus has characteristic, pronounced signs: the barrel-shaped body, legs are short and wide, so when walking the belly often drags along the floor. But this appearance is quite deceptive - if the animal runs, then its speed is up to 50 km / h and is comparable with the speed of movement of the car through the city streets. The head of a hippopotamus has a broad, flat shape. Its weight ranges from 400 to 700 kg.
The hippopotamus's eyes and nostrils are approximately at the same level; therefore, he can breathe and observe what is happening, almost completely submerged in water.
It is interesting!
If they say that a person is insensitive, then he is often called thick-skinned, like a hippopotamus. Such a comparison has sufficient grounds: an animal's skin is about 2.5 cm thick, while the rhino has two centimeters and 1.8 cm for an elephant. Not every predator can penetrate such armor, therefore hippos have few enemies in the wild. The animal's skin can be of a different color: from light gray to purple and brown. The hippopotamus has no hair cover, therefore, to protect its skin, hippo produces sweat, which has a specific red color. In addition to the protective function, this fluid is repellent and repels insects, and in some cases can be a drug, playing the role of an antiseptic and wound-healing medicine.
Hippos can be attributed to both terrestrial and aquatic animals. In this and other elements, they feel great. For existence on land, they are equipped with a powerful jaw apparatus for chewing grass. The teeth of animals grow throughout life and can reach a length of 50 cm. They swim very well in water, using membranes - membranes located between the toes and subcutaneous fat, which firmly holds them afloat, have echolocation and can hold their breath for 6 minutes .
Record holder, hippopotamus, and on land, his cry is 15 decibels, which is comparable with the performance of a rock band in a large stadium.
If you build mammals, heavyweights on a pedestal, gold, of course, will get elephants, rhinoceros will be silver winners, and the hippopotamus will become the owner of the bronze award. The length of the hippopotamus is 4-5 meters, its height is up to one and a half meters. The maximum documented weight was four and a half tons. Hippos live about 45 years. Today, according to the latest data, there are 148 thousand individuals in the wild. The disappearance of this species can be an irrecoverable loss for the ecosphere. Saving amazing and majestic animals is a task that can be done only by man. The loss of the inhabitants of Africa can make a serious imbalance in the natural balance, where people and each animal play their own important role.
Hippos love to live in shallow water, it can be shallow swamps, rivers or lakes. These animals need the body to fully submerge under water, so the depth of the reservoirs should be about two meters.
In the daytime, hippos do not lead an active lifestyle. In the midst of the day, animals are overcome by sleep; they can sleep in shallow ponds or even in mud. In this case, hippos never rest alone, they sleep in groups, their bodies touching. Here, mating acts and childbirth can occur.
If the hippos during the day for any reason can not be in shallow ponds, they pass through to dive into the deep waters. At this time, above the water surface of these animals are only nostrils. This situation allows them to breathe, as well as to be unnoticed by others.
When evening comes in nature, and the bright sun is almost gone below the horizon, the hippos wake up and begin to conduct their active food-gathering activities, as well as simply to move and change their location. Hippos always choose paths they know for themselves, only danger can change their place to sleep. They do not go farther than two kilometers from familiar bodies of water if there are no extraordinary circumstances. At the same time, they prefer to move in their usual environment along the banks of reservoirs.
Scientists can not provide data on the size of the territory, which is occupied by hippos. The area of the territory depends on how many hippos are in the herd. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, hippos never rest alone, preferring close companies and contact with each other.
Today, hippos are most often found only on the African continent. Previously, they met in other places, but were killed because of poaching activities. These animals were hunted for meat.
Hippos never live alone. This is due to their perennial habits from the moment they appear. One herd of hippos can number from 20 to 100 animals. Group dwelling is explained by safety, few predators are capable of attacking a group of such large animals. As already mentioned, the main activity in the life of a hippopotamus comes with the arrival of the evening. Only then hippos begin to look for food for themselves and offspring.
The role of males in the herd of hippos is to ensure the protection and safety of female individuals and young. Females provide a quiet and measured sleep in the daytime on the shore or shallow water, they control their young, allowing everyone to enjoy the rest.
It is important to note that male hippos are distinguished by aggressive behavior. When a male reaches the age of seven, he becomes a full member of the group. This event gives rise to his struggle for territory and position in the herd. For this there are various methods in the animal world. This includes the roar, and the wide opening of the mouth, and the sprinkling of other individuals with manure and urine.
Thus, they want to show their strength and power, but it can be very difficult for young male individuals to strengthen their position in the herd. Here their rivals are adult hippos who are ready to engage in battle with their relatives for a place in the sun. The extreme measure may be the murder of a young opponent.
Males very carefully monitor the territory belonging to them. They seize possession with the help of marks. Males refer to their territory and a place for recreation, and a place for food. Even if the male hippopotamus do not see other applicants, they still tag their possessions. For conquering and capturing new places, hippos can even get out of the water outside office hours.
Hippos communicate with each other using sounds. About the dangers of hippos always warn each other. They can spread sound waves in the water. The roar of them can be compared with the roar of thunder during a thunderstorm. In the entire animal world, only hippos can communicate with each other under a layer of water. Their roar is heard for the congeners, both on land and in the water. Hippos are capable of transmitting sound messages to each other even when only its nostrils rise above the water.
At the moment when the body of a hippopotamus is immersed in water, the head of this animal can serve as an island for birds, from where they can catch fish and get food for themselves. Hippos react to birds calmly. This is due to the existence of a certain tandem between them. This alliance is justified by the fact that the birds help the behemoth to get rid of the parasites that live on its whole body. Even around the eyes of a hippo can live unpleasant worms that can deliver a lot of inconvenience. Birds also feed on these parasites, making it easier for hippos to live.
Such an alliance with birds can be considered an exception, since hippos are not at all calm and peace-loving animals. They are dangerous in their habitat. With the help of powerful jaws, hippos can even kill a crocodile in an instant.
The behavior of hippos is often unpredictable, especially this unpredictability is peculiar to males and females that protect their young. If another animal has angered a hippopotamus, then he is able to kill him. This can occur under different circumstances. A hippo can gnaw its victim's throat, trample it, tear it apart with the help of fangs, or simply drag it away to the depths.
For all their apparent dangers, hippos are herbivores. Pastures hippos choose near their usual water bodies. For them, there are no natural enemies in the wild, but they do not want to change familiar places. They like pastures where there is a lot of grass. If grass is not enough, hippos can go on long journeys in search of new places where food will be enough for everyone.
The process of feeding adults is quite long and can take one fifth of a day. This is due to the fact that the behemoth at one time is able to eat up to forty kilograms of vegetation. Hippos are not picky at all in the choice of herbs, they like the shoots of trees, the reeds, and other vegetation that can be found near the usual waters.
An amazing feature in the diet of hippos is that they can eat and the remains of dead animals that are found near water bodies, although this happens quite rarely and is a deviation in their behavior. Scientists attribute this fact to the lack of any nutrients, as well as the state of health of the hippopotamus. This behavior is also considered strange because hippo's digestion is not suitable for digesting meat.
Another difference hippos from other herbivores is that they do not chew grass, but simply tear it with their teeth or sip it with the help of powerful lips, which are created for this mission.
After the meal, hippos tend to return to their usual reservoir before sunrise, but if the hippopotamus’s journey to the succulent grass was long, then he could go to unfamiliar waters for rest. Under the scorching sun, hippos move extremely rarely.
Reproduction and longevity
Hippos are not monogamous animals, because in the herd there will always be several lonely partners. During the search for partner males are quiet, they do not need conflicts with others.
When a hippopotamus finds a suitable female, he lures her into the water, where the fertilization process itself takes place. All this should occur at a sufficient depth. In this case, the female hippopotamus is constantly submerged under water, the male jealously watches this. Scientists say that this is due to the fact that the female in this position is more appeasable.
At the time of returning to the group of hippos, the children are already protected by males. During the year, the female feeds the calf with milk, then it eats another food. An adult cub can be considered only when it reaches the age of three and a half years.
In general, hippos live in the wild for about forty years. In special conditions, hippos can live up to sixty years. Meanwhile, how many hippopotamuses live and the state of their teeth have a certain interrelation, if the teeth of an adult individual began to erase, this means that his life began to decline and perhaps will soon end.