Where Do Hippos Live? Hippo Habitat



Hippos are one of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. They are known for their large size and their love of water. But where do hippos live?

Hippos are native to Africa and found near rivers, streams, and Raphia palm tree swamps in lowland primary and secondary forests. Submerged for 16 hours and spending the other six grazing on land at night, they have adapted well to their habitat.

Keep reading to discover more about where these fascinating creatures reside and get a glimpse into their homes.

Hippo in the Chobe river

What Is the Geographical Range of Common Hippos?

Common hippos are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa in areas with suitable wetland habitats. Although their population sizes have decreased, they still occupy much of the range they did in 1959.

Common Hippos are found near rivers throughout the savanna zone in Africa, as well as main rivers located in the forest zone of Central Africa

This includes countries such as Angola, Benin, Burundi, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Gabon, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

What Is the Natural Habitat of Common Hippos?

Hippos use various water sources like rivers, lakes, and wetlands, although they can only exist in muddy wallows seasonally. 

Specifically, during the dry season, hippos need a constant watering source since their skin dries quickly and starts cracking if left out in the open air for too long.

The common hippopotamus lives both on land and in water. It sleeps during the day and spends 16 hours in the water and comes out to eat at night

The hippopotamus does not typically eat aquatic vegetation; instead, it searches for about six hours to nibble grass at different distances from a water body.

Hippos under water

What Is the Geographical Range of Pygmy Hippos?

The Pygmy Hippo’s historical distribution was much more extensive than its current one. Its populations have vanished from many areas, unfortunately. 

Although there are recent records of it in each of the four countries where it has been found, and additional sites that haven’t been surveyed in years might still contain Pygmy Hippo populations, we don’t know exactly where they all are.

We can only provide our best estimate based on available information.

The nominate subspecies liberensis is only found in the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa, appearing in four countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The second subspecies, C. l. heslopi was found about 1,800 kilometers east of the Dahomey Gap near Nigeria’s Niger Delta East to Cross River border in 1945.

However, there have been no reliable reports since then, and it is unlikely that this subspecies still exists today.

Pygmy hippo walking on a grass riverbank

What Is the Natural Habitat of Pygmy Hippos?

Pygmy hippos are mainly found in lowland primary and secondary forests near rivers, streams, and Raphia palm tree swamps.

Sometimes they can be found along gallery forests that extend into the transitional woodland and southern Guinea savanna habitats.

How Do Hippos Thrive in Their Habitat?

Most people imagine a hot sun beating down on vast deserts and savannahs when they think about Africa. 

But how do hippos manage to survive in such diverse climates? 

Let’s take a look at what advantages hippos have against the odds.

Hippos Are Nocturnal

As nocturnal animals, hippopotamuses spend their days in the water and nights grazing on land. 

This unique nature helps them to stay hydrated under the hot sun and conserve energy to look for food at night.

Hippos Are Well Adapted to Live in the Waters

Hippos are highly well-suited to an aquatic lifestyle and can be found in Africa’s sluggish rivers and lakes. 

Hippos have many abilities that help them live and enjoy being in the water.

  • Because their eyes, ears, and nostrils are all on the top of their head, hippos can hear and see while still their body submerged. Moreover, they have a natural set of goggles that protect their eyes while allowing them to see clearly when moving along river beds.
  • When hippos submerge, their nostrils close, and they can hold their breath for at least five minutes.
  • Hippos can even sleep while submerged in water, using a natural reflex that allows them to rise to the surface for air and then sink back down without waking up.

Hippos Have Unique Skin Secretion: Blood Sweat

Hippos have glands in their skin that release oily fluids. This secretion helps to protect them from the sun and bacteria and allows them to survive in the warm climates of Africa. 

These fluids are often referred to as “blood sweat.” However, it’s actually a combination of hipposudoric acid and norhipposudoric acid. 

This is also where the idea of pink hippo milk comes from.

Final Thoughts on Where Do Hippos Live

While hippos are mostly found near rivers, streams, and Raphia palm tree swamps in lowland primary and secondary forests, they can also sometimes be seen in other places, such as gallery forests, transitional woodland, and the southern Guinea savanna. 

Adapting well to both aquatic and hot climates, these animals can survive excellently in their natural habitat.


Can Hippos Survive in the Amazon?

Although hippos are native to Africa, a single colony lives in the Amazon rainforest. They were introduced there by Pablo Escobar, a 20th-century Colombian drug lord who had imported them from their homeland as pets.

Do Hippos Live in the Rainforest?

Hippos are massive and dwell close to water sources in the African savanna of southern and eastern Africa rather than rainforests. Most of their day is spent lounging in watering holes and rivers

Why Do Hippos Live in Water?

As Hippos are native to Africa, with the hot sun belting down every day, they need to stay cool somehow. This is why hippos have adapted to live in the water and forage at night for grass and other vegetation.

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