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The name ?hippo? means river horse and it can grow to 1.5m in height and a length of 5m, weighing up to 3.5 ton. It has excellent hearing, eye sight and sense of smell.
Hippos spend most of their days in the water. Their ears, nose and eyes are positioned on the top of the head, so that it can still see all around while partly submersed and it is able to close its ears and nostrils to avoid water entering. Hippos secrete a red substance which acts as a sunscreen for their sensitive skin when on land. For short distances hippos car run at speeds up to 30 km an hour, but they are unable to jump or step over obstacles.
Despite its bulk, the hippo moves effortlessly under water, partly due to its neutral buoyancy which enables it to sink to the bottom where it walks about with ease. The hippo can stay under water for up to 15 minutes.
The herbivorous hippo mainly feeds on land at night. They live in groups of 15 or more animals, sometimes up to 100. The groups are territorial and will chase off any intruders. Hippo are aggressive animals and are said to kill more people every year in Africa than any other animal. A hippo is at its most dangerous when cut off from its natural environment, so NEVER get between a hippo and the water.
After a gestation period of 230 days a single calf is born. The baby usually weighs in at around 35-45 kg. Mother and child will remain aaprt from the herd for a period of up to 45 days before joining the others. The young are able to swim the moment they are born as they are born and nursed underwater. Young hippos are often seen riding on their mother?s back in the water, and other hippos cows will sometimes look after a whole group of calves. Although they will be grazing by the age of five months and weaned at eight months, female calves will stay with their mother until almost fully grown. The main predators for unprotected calves are lions, hyenas and crocodiles, although most deaths are caused by being trampled to death during a fight.
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