Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day lounging in the rivers and lakes of Africa. The water is cooler and provides protection from the sun.
Their skin is sensitive and they have to take care of it, hence why they have spent eons adapting to their aquatic habitat. The have self-sealing nostrils, flap-down ears and a breathing reflex that even works when they are asleep. Their bodies are dense enough to walk underwater and they can hold their breath for 5 minutes. They have even evolved to have a type of “blood sweat” that is red and oily and helps keep them hydrated as they sleep in the water.
During the day hippos nap and rest in the water, with their noses protruding above the surface and their eyes closed. This is a subconscious reflex that allows them to push themselves up to breathe without waking up and risking drowning. At night, they leave the water and graze on grass. They can consume up to 110 pounds of it a night!
When hippo’s are out of the water they are vulnerable to crocodiles, lions, leopards and hyenas but their biggest threat is actually another hippo! They are extremely territorial and will defend their body of water fiercely. They do this to protect their families and to avoid dehydration. They also do it to show their dominance and assert their authority in the group. When two bulls are within proximity they will stare at each other and then with their rear ends out of the water will flip feces and urine around their girths, this acts as a territorial marker to other males that the territory is occupied.