Home Animals Why are Hippos So Fat | Is the Hippo The Bulkiest Animal?

Why are Hippos So Fat | Is the Hippo The Bulkiest Animal?

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why are hippos so big

Why are hippos so fat? When we think of fat animals, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the hippopotamus. They are, after all, incredibly large creatures. But why are hippos so big? The answer to this question is not as simple as you might think.

Hippopotamuses are often considered to be chubby creatures, but why are hippos so fat? If that’s the case, then what are the reasons? But hippopotamuses are not overweight animals. Actually, their fat is highly beneficial to their health. In this article, we will discuss all the reasons for this today.

why are hippos so fat

Why are Hippos So fat? 

Have you ever wondered why hippos are so huge? These massive mammals weigh in at around two to three metric tons and can grow up to six meters long. Here are five reasons behind a hippo’s hugeness. 

  1. Hippos have some special adaptations that allow them to carry their weight with ease which is why their muscles are incredibly strong. In fact, the jaw muscles of a hippo are so powerful that they can bite through a watermelon in one go! They also have dense bones that help to support their body mass.
  2. Hippos also have a very large appetite. A full-grown adult can consume up to 150kg of vegetation per day! This diet helps them to pack on the pounds and maintain their impressive size.
  3. In order to digest all grass and plants, they have a special stomach that works like a fermentation factory. This stomach with many chambers needs a strong and big body to sit in and work.
  4. Although they are often depicted as chubby, hippopotami are actually quite muscular. Underneath their layers of fat, they have well-defined muscles that help them to move swiftly in the water. However, it is their skin that is truly remarkable. This skin is 2 inches thick, it is extremely tough and resistant to injuries.
  5. Being the biggest has its perks. This is especially useful if you’re an animal trying to avoid being eaten. In the wild, the bigger an animal is, the less likely it is to be targeted by predators. They simply wouldn’t want to waste their time and energy on something that could fight back or was too big to eat in one go. 
  6. Another factor that contributes to a hippo’s bulk is its slow metabolism. This means that they burn energy more slowly than other animals, leading to increased fat storage. Additionally, hippos sweat an oily substance that acts as a natural sunscreen. This ‘red sunscreen’ is also rich in nutrients, which helps to promote growth.
  7. Lastly, hippos reach maturity relatively late in life. Females usually don’t start breeding until they’re around seven years old, while males may not reach full size until they’re 15 years old or more. This extended growth period allows them to reach their maximum potential size.

What is The Average Hippo Hugeness?

Hippos are massive animals, weighing in at around 3,500 pounds on average. But despite their size, they don’t have much body fat. In fact, only about 18 per cent of their weight is composed of skin and a thin layer of fat. The rest of their bulk comes from their bones and muscle and also the majority of their plumpness lies in their ribs. 

In the 19th century, this fat was known as “sea cow pork” and was often preserved for future use. It was used to make a sort of grease that was popular in households at the time. Interestingly, the composition of hippo fat is quite identical to the fat found in beef.

baby hippo with mother

Is Hippopotamus the Thickest of All the Animals?

Blue whales are the largest living animals on the planet and have an impressive amount of body fat. A blue whale can have up to 35% of its body weight in fat, and much of that is in the form of blubber. Blubber is a thick layer of oil tissue that helps marine mammals stay submerged and afloat. It also insulates them from the cold water temperature.

Whales have the thickest layer of blubber, but seals also have a layer of blubber that helps them survive in the water. This rich tissue is essential for marine mammals, and it helps them maintain their buoyancy and swimming abilities. Without blubber, these animals would not be able to survive in the water. 

However, hippopotamuses lack blubber.

Why Are Hippos So Fat- Reasons

Being overweight may not be desirable for humans, but for hippopotamuses, it’s a lifesaver. 

  1. Fat is essential for hippos to survive in their hot, African habitat. 
  2. By storing energy in their fat tissues, hippos can go for long periods of time without food.
  3. The thick layers of fat also help to insulate their bodies and keep them cool in the blistering heat.

Final Words

At first glance, hippos may seem like sluggish, obese creatures. However, looks can be deceiving. These animals are actually incredibly fit, with tough muscles covering their entire body. They are also extremely energetic, able to swim long distances, and easily outrun humans.

In addition, hippos are always hungry, consuming up to 150kg of vegetation per day. And if they feel threatened, they can be quite aggressive, capable of causing serious injury or death.

References:

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-12-01/Ten-things-you-might-not-know-about-hippos-M40VEPKbFC/index.html
https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/hippopotamus
https://africansermonsafaris.com/blog/9-amazing-hippo-facts-to-know-before-your-african-safari
/

Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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