How do hippos reproduce?

Hippo-potamus or "river horse ", so Linnaeus called the common hippopotamus. In other cultures it is known as "river buffalo ", "river hog " or even, "river beast ". They have always been compared to other species due to their enigmatic appearance and behavior, but, ¿where do these animals come from? ¿How hippos reproduce? The answer is that it depends on the species.

Today, there are two species with many differences in their reproduction. They are the common hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the pygmy (Choeropsis liberiensis). In this AnimalWised article we will focus on the hippo reproduction common and, later, we will see how pygmy hippos reproduce.

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  1. How does a common hippo reproduce?
  2. How is the courtship of hippos?
  3. Is the hippopotamus oviparous or viviparous?
  4. When do hippos reproduce?
  5. How do pygmy hippos reproduce?

How does a common hippo reproduce?

The hippopotamus is a placental mammal, like mice, dogs, or humans. Therefore, its reproduction is sexual. A new hippo is formed by the union of a male gamete (sperm) and a female gamete (egg). Furthermore, this species is unisexual: there are male and female hippos.

Male hippos are slightly larger than females and have a more powerful jaw1. It is because they are more territorial. They compete with each other for the territory in which the females live, so that the most dominant males are the ones that reproduce the most. In short, common hippos are polygamous animals.

However, ¿how exactly do hippopotamus reproduce? The mating of this species occurs in water. The female remains submerged and the male climbs on top of her, beginning the sexual act. Copulation lasts about 15 minutes and, after it, an embryo (rarely two) forms inside the female. This is how common hippos reproduce.

How is the courtship of hippos?

Common hippos are very sociable and gregarious animals. They form herds of between 10 and hundreds of individuals, where they are segregated by sex. On the one hand, there are females, young and sub-adults. On the other, we find groups of single males who maintain a submissive posture. It is because, usually, only one of them is dominant and can reproduce freely with females.

Sometimes a submissive male rebels, challenging the dominant male. They both get into an argument and they use their heads to show their might. To do this, they open their mouths, show their teeth to the opponent and hit each other with the jaw. They do not usually hurt themselves, since the weakest realizes their disadvantage by surrendering.

Thus the strongest male defends its territory from other males, including the water in which they rest, the banks and a small strip of land. To do this, it grunts and spreads its feces thanks to the characteristic movement of its tail. This technique also serves to indicate to the females that he has the best genes; they are the best bet.

Is the hippopotamus oviparous or viviparous?

The amphibian life of hippos leads some to doubt whether these animals lay eggs or calve. The truth is that all placental mammals are viviparous animals and the hippopotamus as well. Females go through a long pregnancy and her babies are born through childbirth. This is how hippos of both species reproduce.

In the reproduction of the common hippopotamus, andThe pregnancy lasts about 240 days (7-8 months). After this time, it is time to give birth and the female moves away from the group to shallow waters. There, in solitude, he usually has a baby and, rarely, twins.

In addition, they share other characteristics with us. For example, females possess mammary glands and they feed their young with milk. They also take care of them while they are little, at least until they can survive on their own..

Baby hippos

Now that you know how hippos reproduce, you are surely wondering what their young are like. A newborn hippo weighs between 35 and 52 kg. When 2 days pass after giving birth, the mother returns with the rest of the females and, together, they protect their young from predators. The males, for their part, do not participate in the care of the little ones.

The main care is breastfeeding. Hippo mothers breastfeed both in water and on land, while resting or feeding, respectively. This process ends when the little ones are between 8 and 15 months old, when they have grown enough to be more independent. However, they remain children for a long time. In nature, these animals reach the sexual maturity when they are 6-9 years old. It seems late, but they can reproduce until they are about 40-45 years old, which is their average life expectancy. During this time, females usually have one calf every 2 years.

If you want to learn more about "river horses ", you have to read this other article about What do hippos eat.

When do hippos reproduce?

The breeding season for common hippos depends on where they live. In southern and part of eastern Africa they breed seasonally. Thus, the delivery coincides with the arrival of the rains, ensuring a large amount of resources for parenting. However, in western and part of eastern Africa, births can occur throughout the year..

If you want to know more about the habitat of hippos and their behavior, don't miss this other article about Where hippos live.

How do pygmy hippos reproduce?

We already know all about the reproduction of common hippos, but, ¿How do pygmy hippos reproduce? These animals live in the humid forests of West Africa, where they are adept at camouflaging themselves. Therefore, there is no information on their reproductive behavior in nature.. TAll what we are going to see has been observed in captivity.

Pygmy hippos are solitary animals. Live alone or as a couple and they are quite territorial. Males have about 2 km² of territory, while females make up about 0.5 km². They reproduce at any time of the year and mating can occur on land or in water..

The gestation lasts about 200-210 days (6-7 months). They usually have only one calf, rarely two. It is always born on earth and weighs around 5 kg. His mother keeps him hidden in holes or in undergrowth, where he quickly learns to fend for himself. Despite this, it will take about 2.5 or 3 years to reach sexual maturity.

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