Scientific name : Hippopotamus amphibius

The hippopotamus is one of the heaviest species of terrestrial mammals, after the elephant and the rhinoceros. Hippos can live at up to 2 000 meters in altitude, such as in the lower hills of Mount Kenya. They generally live in groups of 10 to 15 individuals, near water. The water helps hippos handle extremely hot weather. It’s an animal that is both terrestrial and aquatic: hippos can see and hear below the water’s surface and can keep their heads underwater for up to 15 minutes!
While hippos seem like peaceful animals, it’s better not to bother them! Many other animals fear them, and with reason. When they charge, hippos can reach up to 30 km/h. Their mouths, which open to 150°, are especially remarkable!

Did you know?

No need for sunscreen!

Hippos' skin secretes a reddish oily liquid sometimes called "blood sweat." It starts off colourless and turns orange-red after a few minutes, before becoming brown. This liquid protects the animal from the sun: it dries outside of water and forms a protective crust. It also has an anti-infectious role.

Key figures

  • Height: 1.5 m at the shoulders and 4.5 m long
  • Weight: up to 4 tonnes!
  • Life expectancy: between 30 and 40 years in the wild. The record in captivity : 54 years.
  • Diet: 50 kg of plants per day, with incisors measuring up to 60 cm long.
  • Gestation period: 227 to 240 days, with a birth weight of nearly 40 kg and 10 times more a year later!

Keep up hope

Burundi, a hippo-friendly country

This little country is home to around 1 500 hippos. In certain periods, the animal takes over the streets of the capital at night to graze on the lawns. The cohabitation between men and the hippos is very peaceful here.