Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.
What Is a Hippopotamus?
Imagine you are on safari in Africa. You come upon a lake and see what looks like two small eyes and tiny, round ears poking out above the water's surface. It doesn't look very big, so you decide to get closer. Slowly, it comes out of the water, and you see that those tiny eyes and ears are attached to a very large, plump animal with an enormous mouth! You've just met a hippopotamus, and you should definitely get out of its way!
A hippopotamus, also called a hippo, is a very large, aggressive African animal. It has a large head and mouth, grayish skin and short legs.
An adult hippo can weigh between 3,000 to more than 9,000 pounds and can stand over 5 feet high at their shoulder. Though they look like a cuddly blob with legs, they are very aggressive and can kill a human. Even with those short, stubby legs, hippos can run about 30 miles per hour on land for a short time, so you might have a hard time outrunning one!
Their gray skin, which is mostly hairless, may look tough and leathery, but it dries out easily in the sun. So, hippos spend most of their day hanging out in the water to stay cool. They have another interesting way of protecting their skin when not in the water--their skin will ooze a red, slippery substance that looks like blood. This is called blood sweat. Although it sounds yucky, it's not really blood, and the hippo needs it to keep its skin wet and protected from sunburn. They have their own built-in sunscreen!
Where Do Hippos Live?
In the wild, hippos are found in eastern and southern Africa by lakes and rivers. They live in groups, called schools. Remember how the hippo stays in the water most of the day? It still needs to know what is happening around it, so its nose, eyes and ears are high up on its head, poking out of the water. Hippos can stay almost completely under the water and still breathe, see and hear!
When they do go underwater, their nose holes close so the water can't get in, like when you pinch your nose and go underwater. Hippos can even walk along the bottoms of lakes and rivers, holding their breath for up to 5 minutes!
After the sun sets, hippos leave the water because it's dinner time! Hippos are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Their favorite menu item is grass, and they might walk up to 6 miles each night to find enough food.
How Do Hippos Defend Themselves?
Sometimes, hippos get into fights, especially with other hippos. They have very large tusks inside their huge mouths that are always growing, and they use these tusks to hack and slice at their attackers.
They also use their large heads to whack each other, swinging them around like wrecking balls. With all this hacking and whacking, their fights can be deadly for the loser.
A hippopotamus is a very large, aggressive African animal with a large head and mouth, grayish skin and short legs. It spends most of its time in the water, but its skin will ooze blood sweat to stay moist and protected from the sun when out of the water. Hippos are herbivores, which means they only eat plants.
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