Hippopotamus Physical Characteristics
There is no other creature in the world that displays as unique of a body at the Hippo. They are well known due to the rounded barrel shape of their bodies. This is the core part of them and where most of the bulk comes in. The mouth as well as the teeth of a Hippo are very large. If you haven’t had the chance to see them in person, you should look at pictures of them online. It is really amazing!
They have very little hair on their bodies which is why they live in hot regions. However, they are also vulnerable to sunlight so they stay in the water until dusk. When it is very hot out they may have their entire body submerged and all you see is eyes if you focus carefully in those bodies of water.
What is really interesting about the Hippo anatomy is that they are able to walk or run along the bottom of the water where they live. They don’t use their appendages to swim like most people think. They have a certain gravitational positioning with their bodies that allows this to happen. Most researchers are very impressed by this particular pertaining to the Hippo.
It is extremely difficult to weight the bodies of Hippos living in the wild. Estimates are used based on calculations that experts have. The range of them spans from about 3 tonnes to more than 9 tonnes. The males are larger than the females but both sexes are very heavy. This makes it very difficult when transporting a Hippo from the wild into captivity.
A Hippo is very large when you consider the length as well. This spans from 11 to 17 feet. A Hippo has a very high skull and up on it is where you will find the eyes, ears, and nostrils. Many people comment that it is funny to see such small ears on such a large animal. The position of these features though allows them to submerge most of the body under the water with ease.
The skin of the Hippo has very little hair so they have to be careful in the sun. During the peak of the heat season, they will create a type of orange substance that comes out of the pores and onto the skin. It is a type of natural sunscreen but as it is on their skin it will begin to look red. This can look like blood and many myths have circulated due to this process.
Their bodies are designed to be able to stay under the water for a period ranging from 3 to 5 minutes. However, since the nostrils are on top of the skull, what you will find is that they only lift this part of the body up to take in more air. As a result, it can often seem like a Hippo is remaining under the surface of the water for hours at a time.
Even while sleeping, the need for air occurs for the Hippo. However, it is automatic so they can do it without thinking about it. The nostrils automatically close when they submerge them. Then they will be opened up as they come to the surface for additional air.
For the older Hippos, you will often find that their bodies are covered in scars. These can occur for a variety of reasons. With the males, it is usually contributed to them fighting with a dominant male for mating. For the females they can be the result of the actual mating taking place. Females will attach each other or males too when they have young they are trying to protect.