Friday, November 2, 2012

Hippopotamus lives as a frog!

As school kids, we wondered about an animal that lives in water. We imagined it then as a buffalo lying in tank and taking bath. It is the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius, 'Neer Yaanai' in Tamil meaning 'water elephant'). When we saw it in a zoo then, it resembled a large sized pig, that is lying in mud avoiding sun's heat! Submerged in water, it was also like a frog or a crocodile, showing only its nostrils, eyes and ears above the water surface.

These hippos live now only in Africa, south of Sahara. They are gregarious, herbivorous, territorial and semi-aquatic animals; the third largest of the land mammals. They are related to whales and dolphins only and not to pigs or frogs. At daytime they remain in the river water; get out to land only at dusk to graze on grasses. Skin is 6 inches thick! Submerged inside the water, they resurface every three minutes to breathe; even during their sleep they rise up to the surface and breathe without waking up! Baby hippo is also born inside water, after taking eight months to mature in its mother's womb; it weighs 25 Kg at birth! Hippos are not docile animals like cows; but are aggressive; they fight with crocodiles, lions and hyenas to safeguard their young ones from them.


These wonder hippos are wondered about throughout the world! But they are now in 'Red List of Threatened Species' (IUCN), as they are poached for their long ivory teeth - by humans.


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