Hippos LOVE the water!!
They're ears, eyes and nostrils all are on the top of their heads. All this is so they can completely stay underwater but still be aware of their surroundings. Hippos are also airtight because they can close their ears and nostrils when they submerge so no water leaks in? They have 4 toes on each hoof which are very close together, this is to help them swim under water - like webbed feet. Their skin is about 1/2 (half) inch thick, and is very sensitive to sunlight, which is another reason why they're always in the water, or in mud holes.
They have no sweat glands or scent glands, but they do have a subcutaneous Mucous Gland. This gland secretes a pink-ish to red-ish oily liquid that helps in keeping the hippos skin from drying out.
Hippos prefer the slow flowing waters. They are most often found in slow moving streams, creeks, rivers, or in lakes that are just deep enough so they can submerge. In order for a hippo to stay on the surface they have to paddle their 4-toed hooves! Many times the hippo will totally submerge underwater and walk along the bottom.
Hippos are found in Africa. They range from central and southern Africa to western Africa; south of the Sahara Desert. They are mainly found along the Nile River Valley and in Game Parks and Reserves around Africa.
Through the years, the hippo has begun to dimenish. Right now, the pygmy hippo (a smaller version of the common, or Nile, hippo) is endangered, and the common hippo, is coming close to being endangered. Many Africans and safari-ists hunt the hippo for it's ivory tusks. =( At one time, researchers were hunting the hippo just to kill it and study it from the inside.
Hippos travel in groups or herds known as Bloats. Bloats will range, anywhere from 10 to 20 hippos. Although, they have been known to be as small as 2 or 3 and as big as 50. The bloat is made up of females, their offspring, and a dominant male. The dominant male has to continuely 'battle' with the other subordinate males of the bloat to keep his position. Hippos battle by using their heads as hammers. The hippos face off and swing their heads from the side to bash the other.
Hippos also have 4 HUGE canine teeth that are long and very sharp. When the hippo uses his mouth in combat, it's a garauntee that both hippos will come out of the fight with marks and wounds from their sharp teeth.
When a hippo opens it's mouth wide, like in the pictures above, it's not a yawn. Although it may look like this cute creature is just tired and yawning, it's really feeling threatened. So, if you ever see a hippo and that hippo starts yawning at you, run away before it bites you.
Remains of many fossil hippopotamuses have been found in European and Indian deposits of the Pliocene Epoch and Quaternary Period; fossils in England seem to be of the same species as the present-day common hippopotamus.
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