What Do Animals Eat?

What Do Hippos Eat?

Posted In: Mammals.

This fierce looking animal is the largest on the herbivore animal list. They live in Africa, where two species are to be found, one is the common hippopotamus and the other is the pygmy hippopotamus. They are semi-aquatic animals, meaning that they live their lives in the water and on land as well. The large hippo lives in East Africa, more precisely south of the Sahara. The other species of hippo is much smaller and is a solitary animal that lives in forests of West Africa.

A hippo grazingA hippo grazing at Maasai Mara National Reserve, Narok County, Kenya. Photo by .

What they eat?

Their diet mainly consists of grass and a large variety of water plants. They can also eat any kind of vegetables they can find. They feed mostly during the night, spending their day mostly out in the sun on the bank of the river, or just lying lazily in the water. Their head is usually exposed, this way they can they can be alert to their surroundings. Even though hippos are adapted to life in the water, they cannot swim, their bodies are just too heavy, and therefore they move around using their legs, lightly touching the bottom of the river and pushing forward.

About hippos

Considering their size, hippos are very agile creatures, traversing very steep banks in order to reach the grass, which is their number one food source. Due to their enormous size, one might think they eat a large amount of grass – on the contrary, they consume around 80 pounds of food per night.

A pygmy hippo grazingA pygmy hippo grazing. Photo by .

They are very aggressive

The larger hippo is considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, since it is extremely aggressive. They can move easily in the water and on land as well. They have small nostrils, eyes and ears that are set on top of their large heads, which are well suited to their aquatic life. These eyes are so developed that even though when the hippo is under water, it can be alert to everything that surrounds it.

Hippo’s social behavior

Most of the time they can be found in groups of 10 to 20 individuals. During times of drought, several groups are forced to stay together in a single pool of water. If a hippo remains out of water for too long, it may lead to dehydration, since their skin is so sensitive. For this reason they try to stay in the water most of the day. They don’t have sweat glands, they secret a red liquid from their pores, which looks like blood. This liquid hydrates the skin, like a body lotion, protecting it from the sun.

They are under threat

The hippo is a threatened animal since it has been hunted for too long for its ivory and as food as well. Nowadays, their territory has become significantly smaller, due to human movements into their natural habitat. Despite their cute appearance, hippos are very unpredictable; they can easily kill a person in case they feel threatened. The hippo’s yawn can be mistaken for a sign of boredom or sleepiness, but it is in fact a gesture of threat, its clear meaning is to say “Back off!”