Hippo Pregnancy | How Long Does a Hippo Stay Pregnant

After a successful mating in the water, female hippopotamus will give birth to a new one after almost 8 months. However, giving birth to a new hippo which weighs between 55 to 120 pounds is not an easy task. And the first challenge for a mother hippo after giving birth to a newborn Hippo is to save it from its predators. In fact, some other interesting facts have made people more inquisitive regarding the hippopotamus pregnancy.

How Long Does a Hippo Stay Pregnant

Hippopotamus Reproduction

A Female Hippo starts mating when it is 7 or 8 years old although a female one achieves its sexual maturity when it is about 4 years old. It has been found that female one does not ovulate for about one and half years after giving birth.

This is a rare case seen in the life cycle of other land mammals. Thus the fascinating facts of hippo reproduction and pregnancy details attract us and people are curious to know more about how do hippos reproduce.

How do hippos mate

Where do hippos mate

Hippopotamuses Mate in the water. No other African land mammals mate in the water other than hippos. However, hippos are gigantic animals and male ones seem to face difficulty while getting on top of the female hippos when it is time to mate.

The mating process for hippopotamuses is not as pleasurable as we may think and this is due to the weight of the male hippos. The male ones struggle to mate the female ones submerged in the water.

During mating female hippo brings her head out of the water several times for breathing. The male hippopotamus remains quite aggressive during the process. The ability to float makes it easier for the male hippo to get on top of the female hippo for the copulation.

In fact, the female hippo is forced by the male hippo to have sexual activity and it is a common phenomenon seen in most of the hippos’ life cycle that they mate with several partners.

Place of mating

You might wonder where do hippos mate. As we know-hippos love water and most of the time they stay in the water to keep their body cool. The male hippos are used to force female hippos for mating in the water. It is rarely seen that the hippos are mating on the land.

Season of mating

Hippos don’t follow any specific season for mating. However, May and June are the months when the wet season occurs and it is observed that the sexual activities of hippopotamuses increase during this season.

Additionally, it can be said that they seem to choose the end of the dry seasons as well as the beginning of the rainy seasons for mating.

Do hippos mate for life

Hippos mate with several partners during their lifetime and thus they are polygamous animals. This doesn’t mean that they are used to continuing their non-stop sexual activities.

Rather, after a successful mating, the female Hippopotamus doesn’t seem to mate again within the next two years. Also, the female hippopotamus does not ovulate so quickly after giving birth to a baby hippo. That means, mating generally occurs once every two years.

The female hippopotami have a gestation period of almost 8 months. Due to having an intensive parenting style hippos are considered to be the k-strategist animals.

The newborn hippo is taken care of by its mother until it reaches its maturity level. Having fewer offsprings, female hippopotami spend more time parenting her newborn hippo.

Hippopotamus pregnancy

The female Hippopotamus is going to have eight months gestation period after having a successful mating with the male Hippo. As we already know that a newborn hippopotami might weigh up to 110 pounds, the mother hippopotamuses are to overcome a greater challenge while giving birth.

Place of giving birth

People also ask a common question- do hippos give birth in water. Well, when it is time to give birth, the mother hippopotamus searches private places for giving birth.

Usually, they prefer shallow water. After the mother hippopotamus gets her desired location, she gives birth to a newborn hippo which is called a calf. The mother hippo usually stays away from the herd and stays with her baby for about two weeks after giving birth.

Mother hippos feel comfortable giving birth both on land and in the water. As it is seen that the newborn hippo can hold its breath for not more than 40 seconds, and if a mother gives birth in the water, she is to push her calf to the surface to save it from breathing complexity.

According to LiveScience, having twins is a rare incident for the female Hippo. It is a common scenario that the female one is having one baby at a time after an 8 months gestation period.

How big is a newborn hippo

At birth, the common hippopotamus will weigh in between 55 to 110 pounds and it will be about 127 centimeters. On the other hand, a newborn Pygmy Hippopotamus will weigh between 10 to 14 pounds.

baby hippopotamus with mother
calf searching for food with mother

Story of Fiona The Hippo

January 24, 2017, the first Nile Hippopotamus named Fiona was born in Cincinnati zoo in Ohio, United States. The story began when the mother hippopotamus gave birth to a female one prematurely at the Cincinnati zoo and the newborn hippo was named “Fiona” which means “fair”.

The zoo staff did not know how to treat this premature hippopotamus at that time. During the birth time, Fiona was only 29 pounds and she was having breathing complexity.

Fiona was the first hippo that was monitored through ultrasound when it was in the womb of its mother. After birth, it was a challenge for the zoo staff to treat Fiona. Fiona was having different physical complexities due to its premature birth. The zoo staffs were not sure about the survival of this little one.

However, the hard work of the “Team Fiona” members at the Cincinnati zoo made it possible for Fiona to survive overcoming all those struggles. Fiona is now one of the most popular animals at the Cincinnati zoo and visitors along with the children come to the zoo just to see how Fiona is having her frolics underwater after a hard struggle of survival.

Why Fiona so special

Fiona was born before 6 weeks before the estimated date. The zoo authority posted several photos of this newborn female hippopotamus on social media. People were very excited thinking ‘whether this newborn premature hippopotamus is going to survive or not. However, the zoo authority made a team named ‘Team Fiona’ and the members of this team worked hard for the survival of Fiona.

People are inspired by the survival strategy of Fiona. Fiona taught people not to lose hope. During the birth time, Fiona’s weight was recorded as the lowest birth weight ever recorded in the case of a newborn hippopotamus. But now, after a long struggle and hard work of the zoo staff, Fiona weighs about 1600 pounds.

Fiona celebrated her fourth birthday at the Cincinnati zoo just a few months back. It was an exciting day at the Cincinnati zoo as Fiona is one of the most famous animals at the zoo. Many visitors from different corners come to the zoo just to see how Fiona is doing at the zoo. And there is a big reason why people love Fiona.

Fiona is the only hippopotamus that has been getting human interactions since it was born. The ‘Team Fiona’ at the zoo struggled a lot for Fiona like a mother does for her baby. Probably that’s why Fiona is not treated like other hippos.

4 interesting Facts about Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus herd

The hippopotamus is the third-largest land mammals living in Africa. There are many interesting facts about these beasts.

  1. Hippos are referred to as the k-strategist animal. This is because their parenting style can be compared to that of humans. Generally after giving birth the mother hippo leaving the herb stays with her newborn calf for about two weeks. This is to make a good relationship with the hippo calf.
  2. A newborn hippo stays with its mother for about seven or eight years. After this tenure, hippos become sexually mature and they generally look for mating. That way, the cycle continues.
  3. It is observed that a mother hippopotamus is able to give birth to one baby in two years. Once the mother gives birth, she generally does not seem to go for another offspring, and also she does not ovulate for about one and half years. Which means a mother is not going to be pregnant again so early.
  4. As we already know that a newborn hippo is called a calf while a mother hippo is called a cow. The father is called the bull.

Final Touch

Although hippos are considered to be aggressive and dangerous mammals, the strong bond between a mother Hippo and a calf has made us think differently about these mammals. And who knows what surprises are waiting for you if you explore more to know about hippopotamus pregnancy.

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Clay Traynor

Hello, I am Clay, a Zoophilist, Researcher, and Writer. I Write interesting and unknown facts about animal life, habitat, and health.

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