We can guarantee that you will see and hear a hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) when you come and visit Changa Safari Camp! These large, mostly aquatic mammals are commonly found in Lake Kariba and are fascinating animals. Do you think a hippo can breathe underwater?

Read on and find about all hippos here:

1.The name Hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek word for “river horse”. Despite looking somewhat like a pig, the closest living relative of the Hippopotamidae are actualy whales and dolphins – hence the fitting name.

2.  A hippo is the third largest land mammal, after an elephant and a rhinoceros.

3.  They cannot breathe underwater as they are air-breathing mammals with lungs and do not have any mechanisms e.g gills, that allows them to obtain oxygen from water. Their broad nostrils are oblong, which allows them to fold neatly and tightly shut when submerging.

4. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 5 minutes, and sometimes even up to 8 minutes when they are sleeping.

5. Yes, that’s right – hippos can sleep under water! Hippos will submerge during the day to rest and sleep after being active at night, even if the water is too deep to keep their nostrils exposed. They will hold their breath for a few minutes whilst asleep, and then subconsciously come up to the surface to take a breath, before submerging again.

Hippos Changa 1
Hippos Changa

6. They have the reputation as being one of the most dangerous mammals in Africa, based on the number of human fatalities caused by them. Most fatalities are unforunately casued by a hippo feeling threatend and their space being invaded.

7. Hippos can run very fast despite their stocky stature – up to 30km/hour over short distances.

8. Adult hippos have very few natural enemies. However some lion prides have become specialist hippo killers.

9. Hippos are vegetarians and consume up to 40kgs of plant matieral per night. They usually only feed at night to protect their sensitive skin from the sun.

10. A group of hippos can be called a raft, pod, bload, thunder or school!

Hippos Grazing Changa copy
Credit: Information for this blog post is from the book, Beat about the Bush, by Trevor Carnaby.