What do hippos eat?

The hippo, whose scientific name is Hippopotamus amphibius, is one of the most aggressive animals in Africa. It is characterized by having a robust body of large dimensions, very short legs, very small ears and huge fangs. It has an abundant layer of fat and skin with brown tones, however, you can see reddish colors due to a lubricating substance secreted by glands in its skin to protect itself from the African sun. In addition, although it cannot be seen with the naked eye, they have small, very fine hairs on their body. As for its digestive system, which we will talk about later, it is worth noting the presence of a stomach divided into several chambers.

If you want to know more about their diet and know what do hippos eat, don't hesitate to read this AnimalWised article.

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  1. Hippos digestive system
  2. Eating habits of hippos
  3. What do hippos eat?
  4. How does the feeding of hippos affect the flora?
  5. Fun Facts About Hippos Feeding

Hippos digestive system

Hippos have a complex digestive system, since your stomach consists of several chambers or compartments, characteristic of herbivorous animals. However, hippos they are not ruminants as you might think, since they do not regurgitate food from the stomach to be chewed again (ruminate).

Food fermentation takes place in the first chambers of the stomach and, later, after digestion in the remaining chambers, it passes into the intestines. These are longer than the intestines of carnivorous animals because plant matter is more difficult to decompose than animal matter, the process being even slower. The colon is short and they do not have a cecum.

Eating habits of hippos

These animals in the wild, which are good swimmers and divers, usually rest during the day and feed during the night, as they have nocturnal habits. They have the ability to travel great distances to search for food, walking up to 10 kilometers out of the water and ingesting more than 50 kilograms of food in just one night.

These animals usually dedicate between five and six hours in search of food. In addition, hippos have such a low metabolism that some specimens have been able to survive for several days and weeks without consuming any type of food. They can also carry out feeding in the same lagoon or river where they spend most of their time, although most of their food is obtained outside of these means at night..

What do hippos eat?

Now, after knowing what their digestive system is like and at what time of the day they eat, ¿How exactly is hippos feeding? That is to say, ¿what do they feed on? Although we may think that hippos eat meat in abundance due to their large size, they really they are animals herbivores. Their diet is based mainly on plant matter, specifically on short grasses, various plants and some fruits. In the lagoons they can be seen feeding on the lettuces that float in the water or on the plants that are rooted at the bottom. However, among his favorite foods the following stand out:

  • Panicum
  • Cynodon
  • Themeda
  • Brachiara
  • Setaria
  • Chloris

It is true that sometimes these animals have come to feed on animal matter, So if you wonder if hippos eat fish, the answer is normally not, but they can. It is believed that this type of feeding occurs very occasionally when the hippo suffers some kind of stressful problem during times of great drought and when the density of the pastures is quite low. In any case, these uncommon habits do not have a clear explanation today, since there are different hypotheses regarding them..

Hippos obtain the necessary water both from the plant matter they consume and from the rivers and lakes where they live. They are animals that need to be submerged in water to cool, they must be protected from excessive African heat.

At this point, and after discovering that hippos are not omnivores, but herbivores, many people may wonder, then, why they tend to be so aggressive. We explain to you in this other article Why do hippos attack.

How does the feeding of hippos affect the flora?

If the number of hippos increases in a disproportionate way, it can become a serious problem in the ecosystem. Excessive herbivory by hippos, together with other factors such as competition from other animals such as the beaver, which also feeds on plant matter in the environment, can affect numerous plant species, changing their population dynamics..

Fun Facts About Hippos Feeding

Once you know what hippos eat, it is worth highlighting some curious facts about the diet of these large and impressive animals:

  • They do not chew food, they just gobble it up.
  • They consume little amount of plant matter compared to their large body size (between 1% and 1.5% of their own weight).
  • They prefer short grasses to feed.
  • Your digestive system is not adapted to eat meat.
  • On the rare occasions they have been seen consuming animal meat, this has been mainly carrion.
  • They love fruit, such as watermelons.
  • Hippopotamuses feed only on mother's milk during the first months of life, since they are placental mammalian animals.
  • They can dehydrate quickly on land if they cannot get water.
  • They use their large and strong lips to uproot the grasses on which they feed.
  • Are able to store food in their stomach for days to keep it as a reserve. This means that they can go weeks without eating.
  • Some baby hippos have curious eating habits, such as ingesting their mother's feces. They do this to strengthen the bacterial flora of your gastrointestinal tract..
  • The hippopotamus' mouth can open with a width of up to 160 degrees to feed and it uses its Big fangs to cut the grass.

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