The word ‘hippopotamus’ comes from the ancient Greek phrase ‘water or river horse’.
Hippopotamuses, or hippos, are the third largest land mammals on Earth after elephants and white rhinos. Adult hippos weigh around 3600 kilograms and can be up to 4.5 m long and up to 1.5 m high.
Hippo’s skin can be of different colors ranging from brown to grayish-purple, and these animals are almost completely hairless. In order to protect their exposed skin, hippos produce specific red sweat, which protects them from the scorching sun, repels insects and even serves as a healing ointment.
Herds of hippos sleep in the daytime and graze in the night. At night, when the temperature drops, hippos go to pastures where they graze in the grass for a few hours in a row.
The feeding of hippos includes several types of grass. Every night they can eat up to 40 kilograms of food.
Hippos usually group together. Groups consisting of an average of 15 hippos are called herds and are led by a dominant male responsible for the whole group. During a drought, several groups can come to a pond and unite in a single group. This usually occurs during the mating season, and in 8 months, during the rainy season, newborn hippopotamuses take their first breath.
In the wild hippos typically live for around 45 years, while in captivity they can live longer.
Recent DNA studies have shown that hippos are more closely related to dolphins and whales than we ever thought.