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What Color is a Hippo? Learn True Facts

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what color is a hippo

Hippos have skin that is grey, brown, or reddish-pink in color. Additionally, they excrete a substance known as blood sweat that makes them blood red. A further urban legend holds that hippo milk is pink. Are all of these facts real, though? But what color is a hippo? The answer may surprise you.  

hippo basking in sun

What Color is a Hippo

Pink gray-brown hippo colors are the most prevalent. Their underside and the region around their eyes are brownish pinks, while the tops of their bodies are purple to blue-black.

Hippos have almost totally hairless skin. But there are short hairs on the tail. They develop an unusual red color when dried, thanks to a specific gland that covers their skin. A hippo’s skin may be dull in color naturally, but when it is out of the water, glandular secretions can give it the appearance of being vividly colored. It is believed that this red discharge helps to shield the hippo’s skin from the sun.

What Colour is a Pygmy Hippo

Pygmy hippos have a greenish-black top layer of skin, which helps them keep their body temperature down in the hot and humid rainforest. On the other hand, because of their sensitive skin, they lose water quickly when exposed to the sun.

They excrete a pink fluid that gives the appearance of wetness and shines when they are properly hydrated, which happens when they consume water.

pygmy hippo

Do all hippo colors look the same?

The upper portion of a pygmy hippo’s skin is greenish-black, while the sides and underside are greyish-white, and the lower portion is also greyish-white. 

The skin of the common hippopotamus, on the other hand, ranges from a purplish-grey to a blue-black color, with brownish-pink skin on the lower body and around the eyes. 

In conclusion, No. There is a wide variety of coloration among hippos. The many types of hippos have varied pigments in their skin, which accounts for their distinctive coloration. 

Pygmy hippos have a higher concentration of melanin, which results in a darker skin tone, but common hippos have a higher concentration of carotene, which results in a lighter skin tone.

hippos in outdoor

Is Hippos Milk Pink

Although it may seem like hippos’ milk would be pink, it is actually clear. The rumor started because of a misunderstanding of the composition of hippo milk. Hippos secrete an oily substance known as blood sweat, which mixes with the milk of a nursing young hippo. This combination turns the milk color pink, and humans assume it is pink milk. 

However, this is not the case. It’s also possible that baby hippos covered in milk excreted the oily substance, which would have given it a pink color. So, the rumor is not true. 

Although we may never know the true origins of the rumor, we can be confident that hippo milk is not pink.

Final Words

Contrary to popular belief, hippos are not pink. Their skin is actually grey-brown in color, but it is covered in a pink secretion that has antiseptic properties. This substance helps to keep the hippo’s skin healthy and protects it from the harsh African sun. Although the exact composition of the secretion is unknown, it is thought to be composed of oils, sweat, and urine. Despite its pink color, the secretion is not blood, and hippos do not sweat blood. Similarly, despite rumors to the contrary, hippos do not produce pink milk. Instead, their milk is white like that of other mammals. 

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Author Profile
Jeevan Kodiyan
Zoologist | Wildlife Conservation at Animals Research

An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

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