Conservation status


Life span

40 – 50 years


Up to 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) tall at shoulder


10.8 to 16.5 feet (3.3 to 5 meters)


Females, 3,000 pounds (1,400 kilograms) average, Males, 3,500 to 9,920 pounds (1,600 to 4,500 kilograms)

Native habitat

Wetlands, rivers, and swamps



Hippopotamus amphibious


The common hippopotamus is native to sub-Saharan Africa. There are two species of hippos — the large/common hippo and the smaller relative, the pygmy hippo. Hippos are the third-largest living land mammal, after elephants and white rhinos. They are semi-aquatic and spend most of the day soaking in water or mud to keep their skin moist and bodies cool. At night, they come out to munch on grass. Hippos cannot swim—they cannot even float! Their bodies are far too dense to float, so they move around by pushing off from the bottom of the river or simply walking along the riverbed in a slow-motion gallop, lightly touching the bottom with their toes, which are slightly webbed. Their feet have four-webbed toes that splay out to distribute weight evenly and therefore adequately support them on land, and their short legs provide powerful propulsion through the water. Powerful jaws can open up to 150 degrees revealing their enormous incisors. Their canine and incisor teeth grow continuously, with canines reaching 20 inches (51 centimeters) in length. They do not have sweat or sebaceous glands. Instead, hippos secrete a thick, red substance from their pores known as "blood sweat,”. The blood sweats are the places/pores which create a layer of mucous that is originally colorless and turns red-orange within minutes, eventually turning brown. This acts as a natural sunscreen and prevents sunburn and keeps it moist, and prevents skin infection.




Sadly, populations have declined due to habitat loss and hunting. Today, they are largely confined to protected areas in East African countries. Hundreds of hippos are shot each year to minimize human-wildlife conflict and for meat, fat, and ivory tusks. Conservation efforts have been applied to protect hippopotamus by engaging communities through educating and minimizing the human-wildlife conflict through build enclosures, fences, and construct ditches to protect agriculture and farmlands and establishing national parks to strengthen and protect the hippo’s habitat.