Hippo (lat. Hippopotamus amphibius) – The only living representative of the family of hippos. It has several names – hippo or hippo. Belongs to the greenhouse mammal.
The hippo is a rather recognizable animal, since its appearance cannot be confused with anyone else. Massive body of a barrel shape, thick, but short legs – The main features that are characteristic of the members of this family. Moreover, the length of the legs is often so small that the mammalian belly barely hangs above the ground, sometimes touching it. The head is huge, in the profile it can resemble a rectangle in shape, blunting in front and in its weight reaches about a quarter of the entire mass of hippopotam.
All the main senses located on the face are raised upward – Such a structure allows you to breathe, watch the environment and hear sounds, only leaning your head a little out of the water. It is difficult to notice the neck due to its short length, it merges with the body, which is why the hippos are not particularly able to turn their heads. The fleshy eyelids are located around the eyes, against which the eyeballs themselves seem very small. If necessary, the hippo can completely close its nostrils, for example, to hold out under water longer. This is helped by a special muscles, which is developed only in this type. The ears are as small as the eyes, but nevertheless they are mobile and can twist 25-30 degrees. Usually the animal drives off with them insects who want to sit on his head.
On the front of the muzzle there are long and rough vibrissas – hairs that resemble cat or dog, they have almost all mammals. The jaw itself is wide, it can reach 80 centimeters, but the mouth looks much worse, because it can open up to 160 degrees. Hippo’s paws are somewhat reminiscent of hooves, although four fingers are located on them. The tail is not particularly large, but is of particular importance in the life of its owner – He is one of the main means of communication.
In fact, the hippo skeleton has many characteristic features that are not repeated in any other mammal – This is necessary so that the animal does not suffer from its size and weight.
Hippopotam bones are massive and strong, but the vertebrae are considered the most powerful parts. The shoulder blades are located almost vertically and form an almost completely even line with front legs. Riber 26, T.e. 13 pairs.
On research by the famous German zoologist b. Grimimek, who described the hippo skeleton and the size of its organs, people were able to calculate approximate numbers. During the cutting of the corpse of a young mammal, the mass of which was about one and a half tone, the following indicators appeared: the weight of the meat separated from all other parts was 520 kg; Bones weighed 280-300 kg, skin – 48 kilograms, heart in the region of 8-10, language – 5-6 kg, and the liver 30. According to veterinarians, the intestinal tract reached 60 meters in its length, due to which hippopotams absorb huge volumes of fiber without any problems. The stomach has three cameras and even by the standards of the greenhouse is considered a huge.
If we say the absolute size, regardless of the rest of the body, then the brain of this animal is quite large and reaches 900 cubic centimeters. But if we take into account the total size of the body, then it is incredibly small and is only 1/2790 part, for comparison, in humans the brain occupies about 1/40.
Types of hippos
Ordinary hippo or hippo
In size, this species is huge and reaches 6 meters in length and two meters in height. The legs are short, the stomach is large and almost applies to the earth during movement. Legs, despite their small dimensions, are able to withstand all the weight of the individual without any problems. They have 4 fingers connected by leather membranes, which contribute to good swimming and rapid movement in marshy areas.
The ears are mobile, but very small in size, the nostrils are directed up, but can be closed at the request of the hippo. The skull has a rectangular shape, the neck is almost completely absent and because of this the animal is not particularly mobile. Male nostrils often may have small growths or bloating, which are characteristic only for this gender. The mouth can be opened by 150-160 degrees, and the jaw can reach a meter in its width.
Hippopotams have perfectly developed teeth and fangs that are located on the lower jaw. In shape, they are mostly sickleshaped, weigh up to five kilograms and can be sixty centimeters in length. If in the event of some injury the mammal loses the upper pair of fang, then the lower increases in size to a meter to compensate for the deficiency and fill the void in the jaw. But at the same time, the hippo lip is piercing, and he loses the opportunity to eat normally. To avoid such embarrasses, experts carefully observe giants.
This species dental enamel has a yellow color, and the number of teeth – 36. These are 6 indigenous ones, 4 incisors, 2 fangs and 6 more predeposits on each jaw.
Dwarf hippo or hippo
Often, the people are called this animal as «Nigbwe». As follows from the name, the key difference from the ordinary species is the size, which is significantly smaller than that of its brother. At the moment, animals belonging to this subspecies are on the verge of extinction. This is due to poachers, because killing an ordinary giant mammal will be problematic, and they guard them so much that it is hardly possible to get to them. The dwarfs are defenseless, because in size and other parameters they lose to their brothers.
Legs compared to the body are much longer than ordinary representatives of the family. The neck is also present, so the mobility and review of the dwarfs are larger. Only one pair of incisors is located in the mouth, although the giants have two of them. Nostrils and eyes do not stand out and almost completely merge with their heads. The back leans forward and creates a small hump.
The dimensions are modest, the length of the dwarf hypopotams rarely reach two meters, and in height – one. The liquid, thanks to which the mammal is protected from the heat, has a pinkish tint, and in most other individuals – red.
Lifestyle and behavior
Hippopotes belongs to herd animals, rarely separating from the accumulations of their counterparts. Typically, there are not many individuals in the herd, about thirty, but during migration the number of heads can increase to two hundred. A female can also become a leader, since the key factor is not the floor, but the strength, but the females almost never have the strength to defeat the male. That is why it is mainly that male representatives are at the head.
To become the head of the herd, it is necessary to defend your honor and strength in the fight, not only with your peers, but also with young. In hippos, unlike other mammals, the battles are held with great injuries. The dominant male does not let go of his opponent even after the victory, pursuing his many kilometers. Because of this, most of the competition began to take place near water, because thanks to the depth, a weaker individual can escape from alpha. But the victory in the fight does not mean that the outcome of the battle is already clear, because often due to the injuries received, the dominant dies. Because of this battle, for the title of leader, they can take place more than once.
Unlike ordinary hippos, dwarfs settle separately from their relatives, trying not to gather in a herd. It happens that they are looking for a place for life in pairs, but they do not protect their possessions because of weakness, preferring to escape.
Hippopotams try all their time is in the water, on their territory in which they dominate and can survive against almost any threat. They can even plunge to the bottom of the reservoir, regardless of its depth, and be there for 10-15 minutes. Hippos belong to herbivores mammals, but their lifestyle, as well as habits and aggression, are largely similar to predators. For example, these huge artsical officers are looking for their food preferably at night, and they try to rest during the day. This is due to strong susceptibility to sunlight, due to which animals can even get burns. Daily heat does not allow them to be on land for more than 30 minutes, which is why they have to dive into the water every half hour and cool.
Where they live
At the moment, the main habitat of hypopotams is extremely limited, although only a couple of million years ago this animal could be found on almost every continent of the globe of the globe. The extinction is associated not only with the colonialists and the deterioration of the climate, but also with the onset of the ice age of the playstock era. Hippos cannot be transferred to sunny heat, but their body is not able to withstand the cold. At the same time, for example, from some parts of Western Africa, the animal disappeared only in the ancient period, and from the territory of the Nile they disappeared only by the beginning or end of the nineteenth century.
Now these giants live south of Sahara, on the territory of Africa. It can also be found near Mozambique and Malawi, in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. In these places, the number of individuals varies from eighty to hundreds of thousands. At the present time, destruction threatens not only the animals themselves, but also the places in which they live. This is due to the rapid industrialization and continuation of the complete seizure of Africa. It is possible that soon the hippos will become an endangered look.
Dwarf species lives in the same place as ordinary.
What they eat
Typically, hippo are considered to be herbivores, but, according to some reports, certain individuals can hunt flesh and are carnivorous. A thirst for blood appears due to too much lack of salts and minerals. Giants attack cows and antelopes as prey, and also eat carrion if the situation requires that.
The usual diet of hippos consists of thirty species of ground and nearwater plants, but at the same time they do not like to eat plants that grow at a depth. With the help of their massive jaws, these mammals bit their food at the very root, tearing it out aside. Per day they consume more than fifty kilograms of biomass. A long intestinal tract helps to process such an amount of food, which reaches 60 meters in size. Thanks to this, the giant absorbs food twice as fast. They look for food at night, so local residents are afraid to approach reservoirs at a later time.
The dwarf species is not able to hunt or use huge plants, so he has to be content with fructose, vegetation and grass.
Despite the fact that these animals have existed for several million years, reproduction has not yet been studied properly, if compared with other herbivores of large sizes, for example, giraffes and elephants. The puberty ends, and puberty begins when the males are from six to fourteen years old, and in females – 7-15 years. On average, usually puberty reaches ten years. The mating of hippos, unlike other inhabitants of the African fauna, is not one, but twice a year – In August and February. More than half of the kids are born in rainy weather. It can also be called noteworthy that the female can get pregnant again and give birth only a year and a half after bearing the last child.
During the cruel battles, the strongest male expelled from the herd of all representatives of his gender, leaving only females. Ultimately, only one individual mates and fertilizes all females in the district. But often there are times when «strength» The dominant is not enough and he with all the generosity allows other males to take part in mating. The propagation process itself can take place in shallow water or a pond, but hippo do not like to mate on land.
The duration of pregnancy is about eight months, but the exact number of days is unknown, since the data differ everywhere. To give birth to offspring, the female moves away from the herd. Most of the sources and scientists believe that childbirth occurs exclusively in water, but according to the observations of others, there are times when a hippo is born on land. In addition, if there is no access to the reservoir, the female builds a small nest that consists of bushes and crumpled grass. This approach ensures safety to the baby, because with the help of plants it can be hidden from sunlight and wait until the night comes.
When the cubs of ordinary hippo, it weighs from twenty to fifty kilograms, but mainly about 45 kg. His body length is small, all meter, and the height is even less – 50-60 centimeters in the shoulders. If the birth took place in a reservoir, then the mother pushes her cub to the surface and pulls out in shallow water, otherwise he will be suffocated. For ten minutes, the baby comes to his senses, and then it is already firmly standing on his feet and can even move independently.
After the birth has passed, the female does not eat food and is still near the child, without throwing it for a second. She waits until her child can get stronger, gain strength and get ashore on his own. This procedure takes up to two weeks in time, since it is after this period that the cub can finally distinguish dry and water, and also knows how to swim.
Lactation, or milking with milk, can take about twenty months by its duration. All this time, young hippo in her diet only consumes mother’s milk. And not only on land, but also in water. This feature is observed only in a few types of mammals, therefore it is considered very rare. The ability to suck milk, being at a depth, is present only in sirens and whaling. During this process, the baby presses his ears to his head and closes the nostrils with the help of special muscles that are better than the rest.
Since the dwarf hippos are only outwardly similar to their great brothers, and in lifestyle they are radically different, then the behavior during reproduction is different. Unfortunately, at the moment, the mating of this species has not been particularly studied, since all individuals seek to stay separately from others, but some data still became known since recently. In captivity conditions, for example, in a zoo or a small commercial reserve, dwarf hippopotams form persistent monogamous couples, which are already elected by the four years of their lives, if not earlier. They do not have a certain time of the year for mating, and the pregnancy lasts about two hundred days, which is less than a month less than their relatives. Childbirth occurs on land and only 7-8 months of life is lactation, although it is twice as long.
If we compare how much pregnancy and puberty last in other animals that inhabit the African continent, then the hippo ordinary can be called a leader without a doubt. Puberty in these mammals occurs much faster than, for example, in rhinos. This is also facilitated by childbirth, which pass twice a year, unlike elephants. In addition, if the female is absent in the female, then it begins to recover faster, reducing the time between the next offspring.
At the moment, ordinary hippopotams do not experience any special problems with the population. Their massive sizes do not even allow poachers to hunt without difficulties. It also needs to be borne in mind that even wild territories are in one way or another, but they are under guard, which means that it will simply not work to kill an individual of such a gigantic size.
The dwarf hippos is much worse – Their number is limited and will soon be reduced to the stage at which they will be attributed to the dying form. This is due to the physical weakness of small individuals that cannot boast of either size or force. The only thing they have to do in the event of an attack – run, but the bullet will still be faster and after a couple of shots the animal will fall lifelessly. People are trying to compensate for the lack, taking more and more zones where the dwarfs live, but this still does not bring visible results. If the poacher can interfere with his booty, then he can still kill it, and then it will hide when it makes it out if it is something wrong.
Judging, according to historical information, unlike bison or elephants, the hippos were not subject to mass extermination and hunting for them was not so fierce.
Since this animal has the same mass as an elephant, it is not suitable for prey for other predators. Currently, only lions and Nile crocodiles are threatened to hippopotams. But they can attack and kill only young animals or a female, because the size of an adult male determines its strength. Long fangs, which, although intended for rupture of vegetation, can break without any problems to part of even a large and strong lion. That is why not a single predator is at risk of attacking adults.
In the wild, only a pack of lions will be able to kill an ordinary hippo that will act together. And then, if there is a reservoir nearby, then the giant will hide without problems from illwishers. There are several cases in scientific reports when three or four lions decided to surround and attack the hippo, and the one, since his territory was nearby – Water rushed there. They followed him, which they regretted almost immediately: a great mammal of a large mammal without any problems began to drown and ram his enemies, so he had not had to run, but to stay alive. Of these cases, the situation is also known when the couple of Lviv decided to enjoy the cub of Hippopotam, but the female came to his aid, as a result of which one predator was crushed, and the other – drowned in liquid silt.
Crocodiles, by the way, are far from always attacking their neighbors at the habitat, often even vice versa, peacefully coexist with each other. It often happens that the female leaves young individuals in the care of crocodiles, and they protect them from hyenas or lions. Also, crocodiles can move on the back of adult animals, creating a duo monsters of shallow water. However, due to some kind of defect in the brain of one of the mammals, crocodiles or hippotamas relate to each other aggressively, attacking and eating each other.
There were reports that alligators attacked adult males and even successfully won them, but this is rather an exception, since those individuals were sick or injured. According to the observations of people, when the number of crocodiles falls due to their actions, the number of hippos sharply increases in those areas. This fact clearly demonstrates that one way or another, but the population of one species directly depends on the population of another.
If even a strong lion dare to attack an adult, then things are different with the cubs – Not only kings of animals, but also leopards with hyenas eat them without problems. According to now known data, in the first year of life, young animals die due to an attack by natural enemies in 30-50% of cases. In addition, during migration, adults can simply crush the kids.
Hippo, no doubt, peculiar and unique animals. No matter how people try to study and observe, so far in wellknown information there are many holes and missing elements. Nevertheless, humanity could come to some conclusions:
- Hippo growth does not stop at the achievement of some age, but even vice versa – over time, they only increase in size.
- At the end of the tail, they have small, almost invisible bristles. With the help of them, the margin of territory occurs much faster. By the way, as «material» For the mark, they use their own feces. Therefore, during a trip near the freshwater rivers of Africa, tourists often see many smelly mountains on the shores.
- In fact, there are many facts proving that the herbivore of hippopotams – myth that arose due to observation only for dwarf individuals. Representatives of an ordinary type are considered dangerous predators who can even eat a person if he comes too close and steps on their territory.
- According to annual statistics, human mortality from the jaws of the hippo is even higher than from attacks by lions and crocodiles.
- In the black market, the cost of fangs of hippopotama due to its strength is even higher than elephant tusks.