Brownish-gray to gray-purple with pink underparts.
No hair, only short bristles on back, head, and tail.
Where to find it:
Up until several years ago, hippopotamus could be found in most places south of the Sahara where food and water were abundant. Hippopotamus are now confined to National Parks and Reserves, but still inhabit many major swamps and rivers. Hippopotamus can be found in almost any national park or reserve with large lakes and rivers bordering expansive grasslands.
Hippos must find places to live with deep lakes and rivers that are within walking distance of grasslands. Since hippos eat about 130 lb (59 kg) of food each day, they must find pastures that can support up to 81 hippos per sq. mile (31/sq. km). Hippos must be submerged in water, especially on very hot days, in order to cool themselves since hippos have very thin, naked skin. Due to their thin skin, hippos can easily become dehydrated or overheated.
Hippos are typically considered nocturnal, but are in some cases also diurnal. Most hippos walk about 2 to 3 miles (3-5 km) and sometimes a many as 6 miles (10 km) while in search of food. Their diet consists of fruit, vegetables, leaves and grass. On average, hippos will spend 5 hours foraging after dark and will then return to the water before dawn so that they can spend the day sleeping and socializing.
All hippos, except for mothers and young offspring, are largely independent and roam waters and grasslands alone. While hippos are quite social animals, they do not rely on each other for protection since adult hippos do not have any predators. The water portion of the homeland is split into separate mating territories which are protected by mature bulls over the age of 20. These territories are generally 50-to 100-yd sections of rivers or 250- to 500-yd sections of lakes. Occasionally hippos will form small herds which generally contain 5 to 30 hippos, but can be as small as 2 or as large as 50. In extreme situations, there have been 200 or more hippos seen in one area, but this is very rare.
Mating typically occurs during the dry season while the hippos spend the majority of their time in the water. The gestation period is 8 months so most calves are born during the rainy season. Females first conceive around age 9 and then continue to calve every 2 years from that point on. Males mature by the age of 7, but may not mate until age 12.
Calves are vulnerable to lions, hyaenas, and crocodiles.