Who are hippos predators?

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Hippos are the most highly evolved of all land animals– they're a keystone species to the formation of the oceans, yet their existence has remained elusive and understudied despite being the fastest- growing land animals.

Their unique physiology is also one of the most mysterious to mankind. The fact that people can't get enough of the creatures is a pretty good indicator of how many of the animals exist on Earth. The problem is that we have a long- held fear that they are dangerous, with many people still putting them down in their backyard, just to see what would happen.

Hippos are actually much more like our closest relatives than you might have previously imagined. According to the University of Michigan's Wildlife Ecology Institute (WoEI) : "A hippo is essentially a small mammal, a little smaller than a human, and they're small in other ways too.

Their bodies are a lot less robust than our own. Hippos' body structure is also much more adaptable to different environments than our own. They're not adapted to being on land: so they can't move around much or in a forest like we are.

They live in water, though, and so they have adaptations to that, too, and can be very well adapted to the environment. The animals' bodies are so different that, when you actually look at them, it's very hard not to identify them as different species.

They've got huge heads, they have long tails, thick necks that extend way beyond the head, and have short heads that are short so they end up closer to their mouths than your own. The creatures' hairiness doesn't mean they're all hairy; rather, it really is just an adaptation to being in a water environment.

" In terms of how these animals behave, the WoEI says hippos aren't much different to humans: they go around living life and interacting with each other. If a hippo hears someone shouting, it might try to run away, or if someone is chasing another hippo, it might try to hide.

The animal is the same whether threatened or not, and if it gets caught it's usually quite friendly towards the owner– sometimes offering to help, or going to try and help them out. "Hippos really are really friendly, " Professor Mark Williams, University of North Carolina's Director of Wildlife Research and Conservation, told Science Daily.

"They run into people, and they run away, with all those big heads and their strong neck. "And you see them in the grass or under water, and they are very good predators. "They have pretty strong jaws and they can pick things off with their teeth and they can attack prey in a very threatening way.

"So, they're an aggressive, fast- moving, agile predator. " Hippos are the dominant land mammals in Africa, but are very common in South and Central America, Africa and Indonesia. Their range overlaps with that of the elephant.

They are also found in all oceans around the world, but they often live near coral reefs, so the majority of these animals are quite far down there. A hippo living just 30 metres up a coral reef at a depth of 2.

5 metres Many people don't realise the animal has a very different anatomy and behaviour compared to that of a giraffe or a rhinoceros. Professor Ross Wilson, a zoologist at Newcastle University, told Science Daily: "Hippos don't have necks as wide as those for giraffe or rhinoceros, so their heads are often very narrow.

"Their mouths are so small that some of their teeth don't fit in their jaws. "[It is] one of the least mobile mammals in Africa, often wandering for long distances just walking along rivers. " The animal lives in tropical rain forests, and only rarely do they actually go out of the water, but they do enjoy exploring, especially when they have the chance.

Professor Williams is convinced we know where our hippo friends are, however: "We know where they live by looking at their feces… and sometimes if they go to the toilet in the right place, we can spot them right then.


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