Hippopotamuses are the third-largest animals and are unique and mysterious creatures. In Greek, they are known as “river horses.“ Hippos spend the vast majority of their lives in the water. Therefore, it is very fascinating how those large and heavy animals manage to stay underwater.
If you are wondering how fast can hippos swim, or if they can swim at all, you are not alone. No worries — below, we will explore those river horses and see how fast can hippos swim and if you want to find out how fast Hippos can run we have done an article here.
- 1 Briefly ABout Chubby Animals – Hippos
- 2 Biological Characteristics That Help Hippos In Swimming
- 3 How Fast Can Hippos Swim?
- 4 Can Hippos Swim Long Distance?
- 5 Where Do Hippos Live?
- 6 Can Hippos Live In The Ocean
- 7 How Can Hippos See Underwater?
- 8 Why Do Hippos Swim?
- 9 Interesting Facts About Hippos
- 10 Bottom Line – How Fast Can Hippos Swim?
Briefly ABout Chubby Animals – Hippos
Before moving on to the topic of how fast can hippos swim, let’s first explore those creatures. After elephants and rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses are the biggest terrestrial creatures. Hippos are herbivore animals and are primarily found in Sub-Saharan Africa since rivers and lakes serve as their primary habitat. They have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years and weigh 1.5 to 4 tons (1360.78–4000 kg). They are semi-aquatic, savanna creatures.
The study concluded that an average hippo spends 16 hours a day submerged and only comes to the surface to look for food. The grass is their main food source, and they typically come out to eat at night.
Biological Characteristics That Help Hippos In Swimming
How fast can hippos swim is partly determined by their biological characteristics. When hippos dive underwater, their nostrils seal, keeping the sensitive flesh on their faces clear of mud. These animals have body weight and a gravitational force that allows them to stay submerged and surface when necessary.
Hippopotamuses can breathe underwater for up to four hours by closing one nostril at a time. They move their heads forward while swimming, propelling themselves with the fins on the end of their muzzles. When immersed, the nostril closes, keeping the inside of the nose wet and clear of dirt and debris.
The appendicular skeleton of hippos has a natural osteosclerotic disease, which results in abnormally stiff bones and an increase in bone density. Both increased body weight and additional bone weight are caused by this condition. Hippos can attain a neutral position underwater and swim or walk on the ground without encountering any resistance thanks to their increased bone density and bone weight.
Hippos must work hard to exist in a semi-aquatic environment without osteosclerotic skeletons since diving for extended periods requires a lot of energy and only light bones can briefly sink into the water.
Studies contend that the reason hippos walk on just three legs is because of an osteosclerotic condition that causes their bodies to be excessively hefty. Simply put, hippos are not willing to carry their own weight and continue to walk on the earth. It is one of the reasons for how fast can hippos swim.
How Fast Can Hippos Swim?
Let’s get to the point and explore how fast can hippos swim. Hippos cannot swim in the water because of their large size. However, this does not stop those interesting creatures from spending the vast majority of their lives in the water. They actually walk on the water and move slowly through it.
Due to the lack of gills on their bodies, hippos can walk underwater at a speed of 8.7 km/h (4.97 mph). Despite this, they are able to submerge for at least five minutes before rising to the surface to breathe. A hippopotamus will aggressively defend its area to protect itself and the other males and females in the herd.
They spend roughly 16 hours a day immersed in waterways, since rivers and lakes are their primary habitat. The name of those interesting animals comes from the Greek term for “river horse.” They are known to be most active at night and to frequent locations near rivers. So, stay away from visiting locations like rivers at night.
How fast can hippos swim as babies? A young hippo’s swimming abilities are identical to those of an adult. They are semi-aquatic animals that can move through water at a speed of 5-7 km/h depending on the species.
Can Hippos Swim Long Distance?
With adults exceeding 4,000 pounds and measuring about 6 feet tall, they are among the biggest animals in Africa. When in the water, their bulk does slow them down a little bit, and they dislike swimming against currents or even strong headwinds. However, how fast can hippos swim long distances? They can sustain rates of around 8 km/h, and a quick hippo may easily go 9 km/h in a single night.
Although hippos spend most of the day in lakes and rivers, they come out onto the land at night to graze on grasses or just to take a stroll. Hippos are said to move somewhat slowly in the water and may even go great distances on land to go back to their regular feeding grounds. They utilize their powerful tails as rudders to help them steer in the water to help them travel further distances.
Where Do Hippos Live?
How fast can hippos swim depends on several factors. The first and major factor is the environment. It is important to note that these incredible natural species exclusively inhabit still rivers and lakes and do not reside in any reservoirs.
In Africa’s Sahara Desert, rivers and lakes are where you may often see hippopotamuses. For instance, when it comes to climate change, hippos move from their arid environment through bodies of water in rivers to cooler habitats.
Can Hippos Live In The Ocean
Hippos do not truly swim; instead, they are submerged, as we already described. As a result, if the depth of the water is as great as the sea, hippos cannot go beyond a particular level.
It should come as no surprise that some hippo subspecies have evolved to swim in deep water due to their low body mass. Numerous investigations have led to the conclusion that hippos can only swim in the ocean when the water level is high. A small number of biologists in the world have discovered hippos swimming in waters like the Atlantic Ocean.
The seas and oceans of South Africa are home to hippos. The seas are undoubtedly quite big and deep, making it challenging for hippopotamuses to swim in them. However, there is a sizable population of hippos dwelling in the bay’s clear waters.
Hippos have the ability to float their bodies in the ocean’s deep water, causing the body’s reflection to periodically break the surface of the water. It provides an answer to the query: how fast can hippos swim?
How Can Hippos See Underwater?
The fact that hippos have underwater vision is astounding. In actuality, a pair of transparent membranes that cover the surface of the eye allow hippos to see underwater when they spend their whole lives beneath water. These membranes, which resemble “goggles,” are naturally integrated.
Hippos can thus easily keep their eyes open, see well, and monitor the submerged aquatic world, even if they must cover their noses and ears underwater to protect themselves from water that is submerged or enters the ear.
Why Do Hippos Swim?
We already explored how fast can hippos swim, but the main question is why they need to swim. Hippos move around a lot for three primary reasons. The first is that they inhabit areas with scant food sources, namely the dry grasslands and savannas of Africa. Hippos can digest solid foods and just drink water, which allows them to keep their active lifestyles while already being gigantic animals.
The second explanation could be claustrophobia, as hippos like to bathe in groups. Hippos also require time to sunbathe since their thick hair keeps them from overheating throughout the day.
Hippos move while they are on land by lifting their powerful hindquarters off the ground. When it’s time to leave, they plunge into the river to swim or use it as a restroom before climbing out. They occasionally wade through marshes.
Interesting Facts About Hippos
- Hippos produce “blood sweat” or “red sweat,” an oily crimson material that serves as both an antibacterial and a natural sunscreen.
- A hippopotamus can hold their breath for 5 minutes. That is sufficient time for strolls around the lake and riverbed floors. It makes sense that they are known as “river horses.”
- Hippos are categorized as “threatened” on the IUCN Red List because human activity has an adverse effect on their ecosystem.
- Hippos can tell who is a friend or enemy by smelling their excrement. They may use scent to determine who has been in the area and if they are regarded as a buddy.
Bottom Line – How Fast Can Hippos Swim?
In this article, we explored how fast can hippos swim. Hippos have an underwater swimming speed of 8 km/h. The hippopotamus weighs at least 1500 kg, so swimming underwater without natural gills is thought to be challenging.
In fact, hippos are known to be among the quickest runners on earth. On land, an adult hippo of average weight travels more than 30 kilometers per hour. It provides an answer to the query: how quickly can hippos swim.
Nato is a content writer and researcher with a background in psychology who’s eager to explore the wonders of nature. As a travel enthusiast and animal lover, she hopes to inspire others to discover and cherish the beauty and importance of the natural world.