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    What do Hippos Eat/Do Hippos Eat Meat/Do Hippos Eat Humans/How do Hippos Feed Their Babies/Hippo Milk/ know All About These. hippos are herbivore but

    What do Hippos Eat?

    What do Hippos Eat

    Hippopotamus are herbivorous animals and like to eat mainly short grass. They also eat fruits. A recent report surprised the scientists that the hippos eat meat, and now they are working together to uncover the hippo’s exceptional behaviour.

    Hippopotamus or hippo, is the third largest land animal after elephant and some rhinoceroses. The Latin word “Hippopotamus” comes from the ancient Greek, meaning “horse of the river”. They belong to Hippopotamidae family.

     The average weight of a male hippo is 1600kg to 4000kg and female is about 1400kg. They can grow up to 14 feet long and up to 5.2 feet tall at the shoulder.  They have webbed feet but yet they are not actually good swimmer and not can it float.

     Hippo has powerful jaws. They can open their mouth almost 180° because the jaw hinge is located far back enough. The male hippo’s lower canine teeth and lower incisor teeth are enlarge and grow continuously and the canine teeth reach up to 40 cm. These teeth are used for combat but not used in feeding.

    Hippo facts/Amazing Facts of Hippo

     Hippos have broad horny lips which help them to grasp and pull the grasses and their molar teeth help to grind the grasses. Their three-chambered stomach helps them to digest the food but hippos do not chew-cud.

    Hippos spend the day time in the lakes and rivers and can be found in Savannah and forest areas. At dusk, they leave the water and travel inland up to 15km and spend 4 to 5 hours grazing 68kg of short grasses each night. Short grasses are their main sources of food but they also eat fruits.

    In the day time, hippos eat the short grass on the bank of the nearby water bodies where they live, but they do not stay out of water for a long time because their skin may crack or can lead to dehydration.

    Do Hippos Eat Meat?

    Generally, we know that the hippos are herbivores and like to eat short grass and some kinds of wild fruits. But recently one PhD student Leejiah Dorward of Imperial College, London experienced an unbelievable and rare experience, which makes the scientists think anew about the hippo diet.

    Leejiah Dorward saw that one hippo was eating a quite decayed, dead hippo in the river water when he was crossing the river in South Africa. He was surprised to see the vegetarian hippo eating the carcass of his own species.

    This kind of exceptional behaviour of hippo was also recorded by Dr. Joseph P Dubley of the University of Alaska, US in 1995. He witnessed that the hippo eats meat. He saw that the hippos at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, were eating meat. Since then, he's been gathering evidence that hippos eat impala, baby elephants, and even their own species. There have been incidents of cannibalism in the animal range from South Africa to Uganda.

     According to hippo expert Dr Keith Eltringham, hippos are not predators, but when they do not get enough food, they are motivated to eat meat. Now Hippos face threat because of poaching and habitat loses. Each year hundreds hippos being shot to keep them out of crops. Hippos are killed by poachers for meat, fat and ivory canine teeth.

    Do Hippos Eat Humans?

    No, Hippo does not eat humans. Hippo is considered to be extremely aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable animal. They can charge and attack humans and boats. They can easily attack or drown small boats and can injure the passengers or kill them. In 2014, in Niger, a hippo attacked a small boat filled with Nigerian school children. 12 children and one teacher were killed by that hippo. In Africa, about 500 people are killed by hippos in each year.

    Ward off enemies, hippo opens its big wide mouth and display their teeth which is a warning against attack. Their jaws are so powerful that they can cut a canoe in half with their jaws. When the hippos feel threatened they shake their head, roar and grunt and make loud wheezing sound.

    How do Hippos Feed Their Babies?

    What do Hippos Eat

    Every two years female hippo gives birth only one calf under water. The weight of the new-born calf is between 25kg and 50kg and average length is 127cm. Then the mother brings the calf up to the surface within 40 seconds for its first breath. The calf rest on its mother’s back when the depth of the water is high for the calf and suckle into the water as well as land. After three weeks of its birth, the baby hippo or calf starts to eat grass but still rely on mother milk for six to eight months. When the calf is about 5 to 7 years old, it becomes fully mature.

    Hippo Milk

    Hippo produced white milk or off-white milk for their calves. Hippo’s body has less hair and the thickness of skin is 6cm which protects them from predator. A red-colored substance secretes from their skin and often called as “blood-sweat” but it is neither blood nor sweat. This substance is actually colourless but within minutes, it turns red-orange color and slowly becomes brown. In the secretion two pigments have been identified, red and orange. Both Red pigment (hipposudoric acid) and orange (norhipposudoric acid), are superior acidic compounds. These pigments protect the hippo from pathogenic bacteria and act as sunscreen and antibiotic. These pigments also regulate the body temperature of hippos.

    Hippo’s milk is bright pink in colour because of these two acids-hipposudoric acid and norhipposudoric acid. When two acids combine with white milk and thus pink milk comes out. When the calf being hungry, it tightly wraps its tongue around one of the two teats situated between the mother’s hind legs and suckles. When it suckles the milk under water, it closes its eyes and nostrils and forms a tight grip on the mother's nipple between its tongue and the roof of the mouth. A cup of hippo milk contains about 500 calories.


    According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), hippos are vulnerable to extinction. Now 125000 to 148000 hippos are surviving in the wild. But poaching and habitat loss reduce their numbers.

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