There is nothing common about the usual Hippo. Yet contrasted to elephants, rhinos and also the big cats the Africa, lock are generally under appreciated, regardless of their declining numbers and the an important role they play in creating and also maintaining healthy ecosystems. Despite they are among largest terrestrial vertebrates in the civilization (smaller only than elephants and also some rhinos) and also are spread widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa, castle remain largely cloaked in mystery. Perhaps this is because they spend most of their resides submerged and peering from the surface of murky ponds and also waterways, frequently only emerging under the cover of darkness. Unfortunately, hippos have actually been eradicated from most of their historical African range, though healthy populations deserve to be discovered in safeguarded areas, particularly in Tanzania and Zambia. In the interest of shedding a tiny light on this enigmatic creature, here are a few interesting hippo facts to consider when you encounter a pod top top your following safari:

1. They are surprisingly dangerous.

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Hippos spend around 16 hours a day in the water. When awake, they can hold your breath for up to five minutes. While they sleep in the water, they surface ar automatically and also breathe without waking up. Hippos can’t make it through for long out of water since their skin is extremely sensitive to straight sunlight, i beg your pardon is why they secrete a red, oily substance, when thought to it is in blood, the serves as both a sunscreen and also an antibiotic.

5. Your closest living relatives are whales.

Until relatively recently researchers believed, based on the fossil record, the the hippo’s closest living relatives were pigs. But an ext recent DNA evidence indicates the hippos are more closely related to cetaceans and also that they mutual a typical ancestor as recently as 55 million year ago.

6. Castle are crucial to healthy and balanced ecosystems.

Hippos are ecosystem engineers. Since of their massive size, they create brand-new paths and also channels as they relocate through the water and between water and land. Water flows through these networks during the wet season, which creates new habitat and shelter because that birds, insects, and also other species. And in the dried season, the lagoons left behind provide a safe haven for small fish and also other creatures. Hippos room also critical to the health of swamp ecosystems due to the fact that of the duty they play, v defecation, in fertilizing the water. Thanks hippos.

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