Three Hippopotamuses Or Should That Be Hippopotami? Either Way, It’s Hard To Type ~ Thursday’s Special

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Hippos can be very disagreeable at the best of times, and downright murderous if you upset them. They are probably at their most peaceable in the water, but that does not mean that they may not capsize a  passing boat if they’ve a mind to. They spend the night hours grazing on shore, and consume huge quantities of grass, around 100lb (45kg) a night.

These Lake Naivasha hippos especially like the close-cropped lawns of the lakeside hotels, so it’s not good idea for guests to go wandering around the gardens after dark. The hazard reduces towards daybreak when the grazers usually return to the water, not liking to be caught out in the sun despite having their own in-built skin care product – a red oily secretion that protects them from dehydrating and overheating.

Once when we were Zambia, on a guided walk in the Luangwa Valley, we encountered a huge bull who was late returning to the river, and couldn’t find an accessible way down a steeply shelving bank to the water. He was so furious he decided to charge us.  (See Grouchy Hippo, Laid Out Lions.) And this is perhaps one of the most surprising things about hippos, given their bulk and tonnage – their land speed capability. They can clock 18 mph at the gallop and easily outrun a human over short distances.

As to good points – they do go in for much companionable honking and grunting when a group is submerged together for the day’s wallowing. It is one of those Africa sounds that imprint on the consciousness – once heard, never forgotten.

Thursday’s Special: trio Now go head over to Paula’s to see her unforgettable puffin trio.

P.S. Hippopotamus – the name is derived from the Greek meaning river horse. Hippos have no horse connections but are distantly related to pigs.

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

67 thoughts on “Three Hippopotamuses Or Should That Be Hippopotami? Either Way, It’s Hard To Type ~ Thursday’s Special

  1. As young boys, whenever we visited relatives by the lakeside, we were always told to run towards a hill or any barrier that you have to climb over in the event a hippo were to charge at you. Luckily for me and the hippos, we never had an opportunity to try this out

  2. This post brought back happy memories of our safari in Tanzania. Yes, the honking and grunting is memorable, as is the smell 😉
    They are such an odd looking animal, it would be easy to dismiss them as slow and clumsy. Whenever I see a hippo, I think about the dancing hippos in tutus from Disney’s Fantasia. That fantasy is a LONG way from being charged by a frustrated bull hippo!

  3. The first time we went to St Lucia on the South Coast the guy at the hotel warned us of the Hippos as they liked to come out the estuary at night and march into town!
    Someone from St Lucia posted a photo on FB the other day showing several Hippos asleep at the bottom of their garden! I kid you not.

    1. Blimey, Edouard. That’s a helluva total. Thank you for providing same. But I can see how it might happen – shrinking waterways being in such high demand by humanity and hippos being so very territorial, and testy.

  4. You are quite right in that you never forget the sound of hippos grunting in the dark. Watching a baby hippo learning to swim in Zim is one of the most memorable sights I have seen.

      1. This one was only a few days old, it too bobbed up and down, and when it got tired it rested on mum’s back. Apparently youngsters cannot hold their breath under water for more than 30 seconds.

  5. I always thought they were harmless until I realized that was far from true. I suppose given their sheer bulk, they could do damage and given a bad temper … well … Those are some big river pigs!

  6. Another great African story and you said he charged, then left us dangling I just had to rush over to your other post. Now I will have to google hippo sounds…

    1. I’m assuming they’re still there. I was amazed how the seine fishermen conducted their business at fairly close quarters, but I dare say even hippos might be up for a bit of negotiation.

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