Just for Kids The Hippopotamus

Amazing Animal

Yak's Corner

October 19, 1998|By Patricia Chargot

WHAT is it?

The hippopotamus is an enormous mammal with a huge head and mouth and short, stumpy legs. It's closely related to the horse and cow, but some scientists think it also may be related to the whale. It spends its days in the water, and comes out only at night to eat grass.

Where is its HOME?

Africa.

HOW is it like a WHALE?

When a hippo comes to the surface, it blows air out its nostrils. When a whale surfaces, it blows air out its blow hole.

How BIG is it?

Males can weigh up to 6,000 pounds - more than a heavy-duty pickup truck! Females weigh 3,000 to 4,500 pounds.

How long are its TEETH?

Up to 30 inches. It has four: two up and two down.

WHY does it like being in water?

Water makes things lighter, so it helps a hippo's legs support its heavy body. And its thick, hairless skin sunburns easily. A hippo can secrete its own sunscreen, but not for very long. So it stays below water, with just its nostrils, eyes and ears showing, to breathe, see and hear. Its nostrils, eyes and ears are on the top of its head, like an alligator's.

How long can it STAY under water?

Several minutes.

Source: Tim French, curator of mammals, Toledo Zoo

Pub Date: 10/19/98

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