Hippo Milk – Is It Really Pink?



Hippo milk has a curious appearance, with many wondering whether or not the milk is actually pink. Despite any evidence to support this claim, the rumor continues to spread. However, there is a kernel of truth to the idea that hippo milk may be pink.

Contrary to popular belief, hippo milk is not pink. It is actually off-white or milky white like other mammals. However, when mixed with their skin secretions, it may turn pinkish. Hippo milk is unique as it contains higher protein and lower sugar and fat levels than other mammals’ milk.

Let’s look at why many believe the milk to be pink and what makes hippo milk so special.

Hippopotamus mom and calf

Is Hippo Milk Really Pink?

I’m sorry to those who genuinely believe that hippo milk is pink. The reality is that it’s not pastel-colored. Like all mammals, it’s off-white or milky white.

It is an undisputed fact that hippo milk can turn pink under specific conditions that we will discuss later in this article. The milk itself is not naturally pink (not even the milk from a pink hippo).

Yet, checking it for yourself is not recommended, as hippos are the deadliest animals in Africa, and coming too close to them would be foolish.

Where the Myth Came From?

The tale of pink hippo milk spans years but has become widely circulated in recent memory, with people sharing facts on the internet. Many didn’t consider the validity of such a claim, and it would go viral. 

This all came to a head in 2013 when National Geographic published on social media stating, “Friday fact: A hippo’s milk is bright pink.”

Although the social media platform of Nat Geo perpetuated the myth about pink milk, it’s important to remember that neither National Geographic’s page on hippopotamuses nor their fact sheet on National Geographic Kids mentions pink milk at all.

It looks like some social media managers weren’t quite up-to-date with the facts like the rest of their content team.

What Makes Hippos Milk Pink?

Hippos possess special glands in their skin that secrete oily fluids, which helps them to adapt and live in the hot climate of Africa.

These fluids are often termed “blood sweat.” However, it is neither blood nor sweat; instead, it combines hipposudoric acid and norhipposudoric acid.

However, this is unlikely as baby hippos, when hungry, will not let a drink go undrunk. The milk, therefore, doesn’t have time to mix with the sunscreen secretion.

What Is Blood Sweat Actually For?

Although blood sweat may turn milk pink, that is not its primary purpose. Blood sweat is a combination of two acids and serves a vital role for hippos.

  • It provides sunscreen for the hairless hippos in Sub-Saharan Africa that desperately need protection from harmful UV radiation. This is a fantastic adaptation to help them cope with living in such a hot climate.
  • Another critical purpose of blood sweat is its antimicrobial properties. It is an antibiotic preventing bacteria from growing and infecting the skin. This is especially important for hippos because they live in water, dramatically increasing the risk of infection.

All in all, the blood and sweat help hippos stay cool by blocking their skin from harmful UV rays. It also works as a sunscreen and an antibiotic that stops bacterial growth. 

So while it may have nothing to do with milk, it’s still pretty amazing.

What Makes Hippo Milk Unique?

What makes hippo milk so unique is how little we know about it. 

But research reveals that it’s high in protein and low in fat and sugar content which is quite a unique feat.

Final Thoughts On Hippos Milk

For years, people thought hippo milk was pink because of a mistake from an authoritative source. The reality is that their milk is the same color as any other mammal’s: off-white or milky white

It may differ slightly in composition from other mammals.

Still, its natural color can turn pink after mixing with the skin secretions, but this would rarely happen as a nursing baby hippo would have already drunk the milk. 

Hippopotamus mom and calf


Can We Drink Hippo Milk?

It is well understood that hippos living in the wild are vicious and deadly, so it’s improbable that you’ll be able to get milk from them. However, if you can domesticate a hippo, you may be successful in getting milk from it. People believe that hippo milk tastes similar to a combination of cow milk and watermelon juice; however, there has yet to be any authentic source to back up this claim.

Is Strawberry Milk From a Hippo?

No, strawberry milk (as the name suggests) comes from strawberries. Hippos, much like other mammals, have white milk. There is no scientific evidence to support that they produce pink milk innately; however, their secretions (which we term as blood sweat) may turn the milk pink after mixing with it.

Which Animal Has Sweetest Milk?

Yak milk features a sweet flavor and pleasant, sweet-smelling aroma. With 15 to 18 percent solid content, 5.5 to 9 percent fat, and 4 to 5.9 percent protein, yak milk contains more solids, fats, and proteins than cow or goat milk. Moreover, the nutritional profile of yak milk is similar to that of buffalo milk.

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