Before you gulp down that glass of strawberry-flavored milk, you’d better make sure that you haven’t grabbed a beverage intended for a baby hippopotamus. The two milks may look identical, but the difference in taste will instantly let you know which one is which.
Hippo’s milk is bright pink. The presence of two chemicals, Hipposudoric acid and Norhipposudoric acid account for the unusual color. Hipposudoric acid is reddish in color and often known as, “blood sweat,” although it is neither. Norhipposudoric acid is bright orange. These chemicals, produced by a hippo, serve as sunscreen, absorbing ultraviolet light. They also affect the color of the milk of a lactating hippo by combining with the milk’s white color to produce a the distinctive pink tone.
Pink milk is just one fascinating fact about the hippo. Take a look at ten more fun facts about this amazing animal.
- Hippo milk may look like strawberry-flavored milk, but the comparison ends there. Aside from the difference in taste, a cup of hippo milk has 500 calories, compared to 195 calories for the sweetened look-alike.
- The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek, meaning “river horse.”
- Baby hippos are born underwater to protect them from falling. Before the baby takes its first step, it learns how to swim. They will spend an average of 16 hours per day in the water for the rest of their lives.
- A newborn baby weighs about 93 pounds (42 kg). Its mother’s milk sustains it for about three weeks before it begins eating grass. Once it starts eating, it never really stops. A hippo eats an average of 88 pounds (40 kg) per day. While impressive, this is only 1-1.5% of its body weight. In comparison, some types of cattle eat as much as 2.5% of their weight each day. They can store up to two days’ of grass in their stomachs and go up to three weeks without eating, if necessary.
- Surpassed only by the elephant and the rhinoceros, the hippo is the third largest land mammal. An adult’s average length is 10.8 to 16.5 feet (3.3 to 5 meters), and its height is up to 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) tall at shoulder. Females weigh in at 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg), while males tip the scale at 3,500-9,920 pounds (1,600-4,500 kg).
- Hippos cannot jump, but they are remarkably fast, reaching speeds on land of up to can easily outrun humans and on average run at a speed of 19 mph (30 kph).
- They are among the most aggressive species you can find and are the deadliest large land mammals in the world. An estimated 500 people per year die from hippo attacks.
- Hippos live in groups called bloats, pods, or sieges. (See this list of names of groups of different animals.) Such a group consists of 10-30 animals.
- Male hippos reaches maturity by age 7 and females by 5-6 years. Their life expectancy is approximately 36 years. The oldest hippo on record was named Donna and lived to the ripe old age of 62.
- Hippos have continually-growing lower canine teeth that can reach lengths of 4 feet (1.2 meters). The teeth grind against each other, continually sharpening them into deadly weapons. George Washington had a set of false teeth made out of hippo teeth.