The African savanna is home to one of the heaviest animals on land- the hippopotamus. The name “hippopotamus” literally translates to horse of the river. But the closest relatives of this savanna dweller are actually whales and dolphins!

Hippos spend most of their time in the water. Out on the savanna is very hot, so hippos need to spend their time in water to keep cool and to avoid dehydration. Female hippos even give birth and nurse their young in the water. The eyes, ears, and nostrils of a hippo are located at the top of the animal’s head so they can see, hear, and breathe while the rest of their body is underwater. Even when out of water, their bodies can secrete a special reddish liquid that can protect their skin from the hot sun. At night, they will leave the water to graze on grass.

Even though hippos are herbivores, they are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. They are even more dangerous than lions! Do not get fooled by the hippo’s heavy appearance. These heavy weights can run faster than the average human. Their teeth are very sharp. As territorial creatures, male hippos use their tails to spread their dung to tell other male hippos to keep away from their turfs. They will attack any intruding hippo or human being that they perceive as a threat.