Animals besides spiders
By Children Rising
May 16, 2013
This week, Erick read a book about various semi-scary animals, including the great white shark, desert scorpion, grizzly bear, king cobra, crocodile and hippopotamus.
I thought the inclusion of the hippopotamus was a little strange since they are vegetarians, but as Erick turned to the hippo page, he was somewhat horrified. Staring back at us was a giant hippo with its mouth gaping wide, showing us all its huge teeth and a pale, wrinkled tongue.
“Do these eat people?” Erick asked.
I assured him that hippos do not eat people and pointed out that the (very) large back teeth of the open-mouthed hippo were quite blunt.
“I think they eat grass or water plants,” I said.
After that, we started a book about fire fighters.
But…the hippopotamuses in the book did pique my interest. In the animal book, they were simply described a large animals that like water. After some research, I discovered that hippos are one of the most feared animals in Africa. They are quite strictly herbivores (mostly grass), but they cause more human deaths than any carnivore. Even crocodiles will avoid attacking hippos and their young despite living in the same body of water.
I found out that hippos are very territorial and their primary defense is to charge their massive, three-ton bodies at a threat while gnashing their teeth. While many carnivores will ignore humans and some will even run away, hippos will attack with little provocation.
So Erick was correct to interpret the hippo’s open mouth as a threat (that is how hippos intimidate each other). I will definitely have to share my discoveries with him next week.