Hippo Fun Facts

Did you know the following facts about hippos?:

  • The name HIPPOPOTAMUS literally means "River Horse" from the Greek terms hippos - horse and potamus - river... but there is very little horse-like about the animal.
  • Despite their intimidating size and teeth, hippos are herbivores.  They spend a greater part of the night grazing.  During the day, they rest by gently wallowing in the river and sometimes sleeping in the water with their head on a rock.
  • Groups of hippos are referred to as "schools."
  • Each school consists of a group of females and bachelors under the control of a territorial bull that is easily recognised from its confident and aggressive behaviour.
  • Despite its enormous size and disproportionately short legs, the hippo can run at fast speed on land.  It would be futile for a human to try to outpace one that was in an aggressive mood.
  • Though they spend a lot of time in water, hippos are rather bad swimmers.  When in deep water they progress by a series of porpoise-like leaps off the bottom in a curiously graceful manner reminiscent of an overweight ballet dancer filmed in slow motion.
  • Hippos follow regular paths to graze, and over time distinct trails are formed.  These paths may be so eroded by generations of hippo feet that they become almost like trenches.

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