Hippopotamus amphibius

There are two different variants in the hippo family, the hippo described here – also known as the 'river horse' – and the pygmy hippo. The large canines and incisors of hippos play a significant role in their everyday life. Hippos live in savannahs where they inhabit the banks of rivers and lakes.

Night active

The hippo is a happy-go-lucky contemporary. They snooze in the water during the day, where often only their ears, eyes and the nostrils of their powerful mouth peer out. They may even take a nice soak in the mud too. They become livelier at night and head to the shores where they can taste the succulent grass.


  • Origin

    Africa, south of the Sahara

  • Habitat

    ommonly close to rivers and lakes

  • Diet

    Hippos are herbivores and so they subsist on plant food. Grass is their favourite.

  • Status

    125,000 to 150,000

  • Size

    2.7 to 3 meters

  • Weight

    1 to 3 t

  • Gestation period

    approx. 8 months

  • Achievable age

    between 30 and 40 years in human care

Threat Categories of IUCN

Underwater strolling

The animals dive under the water with their nostrils folded, allowing them to stay underwater for six minutes before they have to resurface once again. The mammals may actually even decide to take a short stroll along the riverbed.

Endangered pachyderms

The number of hippos has declined by an estimated 10 to 20 per cent within the last ten years. The reasons for this include the hunt for ivory, the incisors and canines of the animals, and the continuing loss of their habitat.

Did you know that ...

...hippos weigh up to 3 tons – as much as a removal van,
...can stay submerged for over 6 minutes,
...give birth underwater
...and mark their territory with piles of excrement?

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