Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

How do baby Hippopotamus survive?

on May 10, 2013

Wild animals arrive on this world extremely vulnerable and dependent on their own innate behaviours, camouflage, quick adaptation and sometimes their mother and/or group intervention and protection.
On the previous entries I explained newborn survival techniques for both zebra foals and cheetah cubs, both of which I hope you enjoyed reading about.

Today I would like to start with a very peculiar animal.
This particular animal is the third largest land mammal and the closest relative to whales and dolphins, and just like this big marine mammals, they spend most of their time in water.
They sleep in water, mate in water, fight in water, give birth in water, are born in water, suckle in water, and feed.. on land.
As you might have guessed by now, I am of course talking about the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).


Hippopotamus Calves
Unlike you might expect, hippopotamus are not very good swimmers nor can they float which is quite silly considering they spend most of the lives inside water. Their strategy resides in staying in shallow waters in which they can reach the surface with little to no effort.
This works great for a full-sized 2 tonne animal but what happens with a tiny newborn whose body is still developing?
As newborn hippopotamus arrive on this planet they must first swim to the surface in order to take their first breath. Hippos can only hold their breath for up to 6 minutes and they need resurface to get oxygen every 3 to 5 minutes and they are so good at this task that they even do it while sleeping.
Young hippopotamus however are too small to be able to accomplish the same task without problems so they rely on their mother’s help.
When in waters that are too deep for them their survival technique consists of climbing on top of the progenitor and rest. This way they can observe the other adults’ behaviours around them while conserving energy for later all in safety environment.

Baby hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) on the back of the mother.

Baby hippopotamus on the back of its’ mother.
Photo Credits

Baby hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) on the back of the mother.

Baby hippopotamus on the back of its’ mother.
Photo Credits









They can stay on top of their parents for hours while resting but when they get hungry they must submerge in the water to drink the milk. To do that they need to hold their breath for several minutes while the mother stands still allowing the baby to eat.

Once they have grown older (and bigger) they need less and less help from the mother to keep them from drowning and by then they would have gotten plenty of experience going under water and resurfacing. It’s all about practice!


Hope you liked learning about the amazing world of baby hippopotamus.
Do you want to find out how baby wildebeest and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?


Até à próxima!


One response to “How do baby Hippopotamus survive?

  1. hksounds says:

    Right now I am watching a newborn, yesterday, on the live webcam on the internet from Arathusa, and this baby hippo keeps trying to jump up on mom or next to mom but constantly slips back down. Is there an expected length of the learning curve on this? The mom seems totally out of it and wants nothing more to be left alone. I’d like to think that they all do get with the programme sooner or later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: