Facts about the Hippo & Warthog
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Hippos are large semi-aquatic mammals, with a large barrel-shaped body, short legs, a short tail and an enormous head! They have greyish to muddy-brown skin, which fades to a pale pink colour underneath.
To stay cool in the blistering African heat, hippos spend most of their day in rivers and lakes. Their eyes, nose and ears are located on the top of their head, which means they can see and breathe whilst submerged in the water. What’s more, these super-cool creatures sweat an oily red liquid which helps protect their skin from drying out – and acts as a sunblock, too!
Hippos are most active at night, when they forage for food. They are herbivores, and eat mostly grass – and boy do they eat grass! In just one night, they can guzzle down up to 35kg of their favourite grub!
Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)
Warthogs, as one might guess from the name, are members of the Swine family and are related to pigs, boars and hogs. And as the name also suggests, warthogs have patches on their faces that look like warts, but are just thick growths of skin.
Both the males (boars) and females (sows) have 2 sets of ivory tusks – an upper set which is curved into a semi-circle, and a lower set which is extremely sharp and dangerous. The tusks are formidable weapons, and in males can reach a length of 25cms. Both sexes have distinctive wart-like bumps on their faces, but on the male these are much more pronounced, with the upper “warts” growing extremely large, possibly to protect their eyes during fights with other males in the mating season.
Warthogs have a naked grey skin, covered with occasional sparse bits of bristly hair. Along the backbone there is a little more hair, forming a small mane, and finally, it sports a tuft of coarse hair right at the tip of its tail. As with many other bushveld animals, oxpeckers assist in keeping insects and ticks off these bare creatures, and wallowing in the mud completes the job of removing pests.