The hippo is the largest land mammal in Africa and one of the most dangerous animals. They frequent rivers, lakes, and swamps, giving the impression that they are masters of the water. However, what you may not know is that hippos can’t actually swim! So, how do they live in the water?
Why can’t hippos swim?
Hippos are not designed for swimming. Their limbs are short and unwebbed, making them unable to paddle in the water. They are also quite heavy, weighing an average of 1,500 kilograms, much heavier than most fish. Therefore, hippos are not buoyant in water and will sink to the bottom if not rely on other means.
How do hippos move through the water?
The way hippos move through water is by running. They use their strong hind legs to propel themselves underwater. They can reach speeds of 8 kilometers per hour, which is faster than humans swimming in the water. Of course, this method also has limitations. Hippos can only run in places where the water depth does not exceed their own height, otherwise they will float and lose their balance.
How do hippos breathe?
Although hippos cannot swim, they can dive. They can stay underwater for about 15 minutes before surfacing to breathe. They have a pair of special nostrils that close underwater to prevent water from entering. They also have an instinct to automatically surface to breathe while sleeping without needing to wake up. This way, the hippopotamus can rest peacefully in the water.
Why do hippos like to stay in the water?
Hippos like to be in the water for several reasons. First, water helps them cool down. Hippos have no sweat glands and cannot dissipate heat through sweating. They can only protect themselves from the sun and bacteria through a red secretion on their skin. This secretion is called “blood sweat,” but it’s not actually blood. Second, water provides them with a safe refuge. Although hippos are strong, they have natural predators such as lions, crocodiles and humans. When they encounter danger, they will quickly run to the water to hide. Finally, water is also a place where they communicate and mate. Hippos express their emotions and intentions in the water through various sounds and gestures.
All in all, the hippo is a mysterious and interesting animal. Although they cannot swim, they can live freely in the water. If you like hippos, consider making a hippopotamus model that can stay on land all the time!