Hippo Facts to Know Before an African Safari

baby hippos

Seeing exotic animals in the wild is one of the best reasons to make your next vacation an African safari. While there are a variety of species that you may encounter while traveling through Africa, one of the most interesting is the hippopotamus.

Most people have seen these animals at some point in their life, whether at a zoo or on television. However, encountering a hippo in the wild is a much different experience than viewing these creatures behind glass, making it a smart idea to learn a little more about hippos before your trip. Here are a few interesting hippo facts that you should keep in mind if you plan to see these animals on your African safari.

Hippos Can Be Dangerous

If you’ve ever seen a hippo in a zoo, then you’ve likely only seen these animals floating lazily in the water, possibly leading you to believe that they are gentle creatures. While hippos would prefer not to interact with people, they can be extremely dangerous animals, particularly if they feel threatened.

Hippos are very large and powerful and have been known to attack without unprovoked. What makes hippos more dangerous than other creatures is that that can attack in both the land and the water, meaning you need to be careful if you find yourself near these creatures.

Hippos Are Fast

There are several surprising hippo facts that you should know before leaving on your African safari, but perhaps the most surprising is these large animals can move quickly. Because of their appearance, many travelers assume that hippos are slow, but this is simply not the case.

On land, hippos have been seen running at speeds close to twenty miles per hour, and it’s not unusual for hippos to travel multiple miles a day when searching for food. So, if you find yourself a good distance from a hippo, be prepared, as they may be able to make up the ground much quicker than you might imagine.

Hippos and Water

Hippos and water go hand in hand, making it a good idea to learn about some of the aquatic facts related to these African animals.

First, hippos, while they do venture on land from time to time, will spend the majority of the day in the water. Two-thirds of a hippo’s day—sixteen hours—is spent in the water, and this includes sleeping. While they are sleeping, the will automatically surface for air every five minutes or so and won’t wake up when doing so. Because hippos are pensive to sunlight, they must frequently return to the water to protect their skin.

Second, hippos are actually closely related to whales instead of other land mammals. Studies have shown that whales and hippos once shared a common ancestor, which is likely the reason that hippos are so drawn to water. At one time, it was thought that hippos were related to pigs, but DNA evidence corrected this misconception.

After learning these interesting hippo facts, you’re probably ready to see these animals in their natural habitat, which means you need to start booking your next African safari today.