The Hippopotamus or Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius), from Ancient Greek for “river horse”, is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are the third largest land mammal in the world. They are extremely dangerous and quite vicious.

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The Hippopotamus is a mega herbivore and is exceeded in size among land animals only by Elephant and Rhinoceros species. The mean adult weight is around 1,480 kg (3,260 lb) for bulls and 1,365 kg (3,009 lb) for cows. Exceptionally large males have been recorded reaching 2,660 kg (5,860 lb). Male Hippo appear to continue growing throughout their lives, while females reach maximum weight at around age 25. Hippo measure 2.90 to 5.05 m (9.5 to 16.6 ft) long, including a tail of about 35 to 56 cm (1.15 to 1.84 ft) in length and 1.30 to 1.65 m (4.3 to 5.4 ft) tall at the shoulder, with males and females ranging 1.40 to 1.65 m (4.6 to 5.4 ft) and 1.30 to 1.45 m (4.3 to 4.8 ft) tall at the shoulder respectively. The species has a typical head-body length of 3.3–3.45 m (10.8–11.3 ft) and an average standing height of 1.4 m (4.6 ft) at the shoulder.

Hippo have barrel-shaped bodies with short tails and legs, and an hourglass-shaped skull with a long snout. Their skeletal structures are graviportal, adapted to carrying their enormous weight  and their dense bones and low centre of gravity allows them to sink and move along the bottom of the water. Hippo have small legs because the water in which they live reduces the weight burden. The toes are webbed and the pelvis rests at an angle of 45 degrees.  Though chubby-looking, Hippo have little fat, the eyes, ears, and nostrils of Hippo are placed high on the roof of their skulls. This allows these organs to remain above the surface while the rest of the body is submerged.  The nostrils and ears can close when underwater while nictitating membranes cover the eyes.

The Hippo  jaw is powered by huge master and digastric muscles which give them large, droopy cheeks.  The jaw hinge allows the animal to open its mouth at almost 180°.  On the lower jaw, the incisors and canines grow continuously, the former reaching 40 cm (1 ft 4 in), while the latter can grow to up to 50 cm (1 ft 8 in). The lower canines are sharpened through contact with the smaller upper canines. The canines and incisors are used mainly for combat instead of feeding. Hippo rely on their flattened, horny lips to grasp and pull grasses which are then ground by the molars.

Hippo skin is 6 cm (2 in) thick across much of its body with little hair.  The animal is mostly purplish-grey or blue-black, but brownish-pink on the underside and around the eyes and ears.  Their skin secretes a natural, red-coloured sunscreen substance that is sometimes referred to as “blood sweat” but is neither blood nor sweat. This secretion is initially colourless and turns red-orange within minutes, eventually becoming brown. This natural sunscreen cannot prevent the animal’s skin from cracking if it stays out of water too long. A Hippo lifespan is typically 40-50 years.

Like most herbivores, Hippo will consume a variety of plants, their diet in nature consists almost entirely of grass, with only minimal consumption of aquatic plants. Hippo spend most of the day in water to stay cool and hydrated. Just before night begins, they leave the water to forage on land. A Hippo will travel 3–5 km (1.9–3.1 mi) per night, eating around 40 kg (88 lb) of grass. By dawn, they are back in the water.

Despite being semiaquatic, an adult Hippo is not a particularly good swimmer, nor can it float. It rarely enters deep water; when it does, the animal moves by bouncing off the bottom. An adult Hippo surfaces every four to six minutes, while young need to breathe every two to three minutes.  Hippo move on land by trotting, and limb movements do not change between speeds. They can reach an airborne stage (a stage when all limb are off the ground) when they move fast enough. Hippo are reported to reach 30 km/h (19 mph) but this has not been confirmed. They are incapable of jumping but can walk up steep banks.

Because of their size and their habit of taking the same paths to feed, Hippo can have a significant impact on the land across which they walk, keeping the land clear of vegetation and depressing the ground. Over prolonged periods, Hippo can divert the paths of swamps and channels.

The most common Hippo vocalisation is the “wheeze honk”, which can travel over long distances in air. This call starts as a high-pitched squeal followed by a deeper, resonant call. The animals can recognise the calls of other individuals. Hippo are more likely to react to the wheeze honks of strangers than to those they are more familiar with. When threatened or alarmed, they produce exhalations and fighting bulls will bellow loudly. Hippo are recorded to produce clicks underwater which may have echo locative properties. They have the unique ability to hold their heads partially above the water and send out a cry that travels through both water and air; individuals respond both above and below water.

Cows reach sexual maturity at five to six years of age and have a gestation period of eight months. Bulls reach maturity at around 7.5 years. Both conceptions and births are highest during the wet season. After becoming pregnant, a female Hippo will typically not begin ovulation again for 17 months. Hippo mate in the water, with the cow remaining under the surface,  her head emerging periodically to draw breath. Cows give birth in seclusion and return within 10 to 14 days. Calves are born on land or shallow water weighing on average 50 kg (110 lb) and at an average length of around 127 cm (4 ft 2 in). The female lies on her side when nursing, which can occur underwater or on land. The young are carried on their mothers’ backs in deep water.

Mother Hippo are very protective of their young, not allowing others to get too close. Calves may be temporarily kept in nurseries, guarded by one or more adults, and will play amongst themselves. Like many other large mammals, Hippo are described as K-strategists, in this case typically producing just one large, well-developed infant every couple of years (rather than many small, poorly developed young several times per year, as is common among small mammals such as rodents). Calves no longer need to suckle when they are a year old.

Nile Crocodile, Lion and Spotted Hyena are known to prey on young Hippo. Beyond these, adult Hippo are not usually preyed upon by other animals due to their aggression and size.


Hippo are found in sub-Saharan Africa. Common river Hippo live in and around bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and mangroves.


What is Hippo Taxidermy?

Hippo taxidermy is the art of preserving the Hippo skin and other body parts to produce lifelike sculptures for display, either at home as a hunting trophy or in museums for educational purposes. Skin is preserved and mounted on an artificial armature to display the specimen.

The contemporary English word “taxidermy” is derived from the Greek terms taxis, meaning “movement,” and derma, meaning “skin,” thereby combining these two meanings. This is why, in a broad sense, taxidermy is synonymous with “the motion of skin.”

For expert taxidermists, skills in sculpture, painting, and sketching are just as important as those in carpentry, woodworking, tanning, moulding, and casting.

The remaining parts of the body are synthetic replacements for real organs and tissues. Polyurethane foam is used for the manikin or form, which includes the anatomy of every muscle and vein; glass is used for the eyes; clay is used for the eyelids; for the nose and mouth the foam of the mannequin is sculptured.

Works of taxidermy can be found in a wide range of environments, including museums, classrooms, galleries, stores, restaurants, and private households, due to the complexity and delicate craftsmanship involved in the taxidermy process.

Thorough preparation is the key factor to ensuring a high-quality final product. All hides are tanned and oiled using the world’s very best available chemicals and processes to ensure permanence and longevity. Forms are selected to ensure the best fit and posture will be altered to suit you, the client’s preference without additional cost. Natural habitat bases are custom-made for full mount trophies without additional cost. Only the finest materials and 40 years of professional experience are used in defining your trophies in a whole new way. The final trophies are almost Life-Formed. When the restoration is required, every effort is made to repair cuts and abrasions, and to minimise bullet damage. Natural scarring is kept unless otherwise requested.

Hunting Hippo

The provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga host the vast bulk of South Africa’s Hippo hunts. You should plan beforehand if you want to go on a Hippo hunt. The availability of quota is strictly regulated, therefore hunting possibilities are restricted.

They can be hunted on foot at night with the use of a permission in places where problem Hippo are a problem. Hunting Hippopotamuses in this manner is highly dangerous.

The conventional method of hunting Hippo entails walking and stalking along the banks of rivers and dams in areas where the animals are known to congregate. Finding a bull basking on the shore will greatly improve your hunting prospects, as these animals are typically pursued from boats. When trying to sex a male Hippo in the water, your target is significantly smaller than when you’re standing on dry land and shooting at the shoulder. Animals that are shot in the water will first sink, but will eventually float to the surface when their stomachs fill with gas. When hunting Hippo in the water, a head shot is a must.

The best calibre for hunting Hippo is a.375 or larger with solid bullets. If you have enough gun, a shot to the shoulder will anchor one of these enormous beasts; in a charge, the only surefire way to stop the beast is with a bullet to the brain.

The Hippo taxidermist’s process and method

When making an Hippo mount, careful planning is key to getting a high-quality result. When tanning and oiling the skins, only the best chemicals and methods are used. This ensures that the skins will last for many years.

Your preferred form for the Hippo will be chosen after taking your measurements into account, and the posture of your form will be changed at no extra cost. Full-mount Hippo trophies come with bases made to look like the animal’s natural habitat and made just for the Hippo mount.

The taxidermy process at Life-Form takes your prized Hippo trophy and gives it a whole new meaning by using only the best materials and drawing on more than 40 years of experience in the field.

When repair is needed, every effort is made to fix cuts and scrapes and lessen bullet damage. Existing scars are left alone unless the client asks for them to be taken away.

Taking care of your Hippo trophy

Using the helpful tips below, it’s important to take extra care of your prized Hippo trophy to make sure it stays in perfect shape for years to come.

  • To keep your Hippo mounts looking their best, it’s important to put them in the right place with the right temperature and humidity.
  • To keep your mounts from fading over time, try not to hang them next to a sunny window where they will be in direct sunlight for a long time. If you can, don’t put taxidermy near direct heat sources like furnace vents or wood stoves.
  • A taxidermy trophy should be handled and cared for like any other expensive and fine piece of art. Mounts should only be touched when they need to be.
  • If you want your mounts to look their best, you should dust them often and gently. A feather duster works well, and then you can wipe away any remaining dust with a damp cloth in the direction of the hair.
  • People often say that things like furniture polish work well to clean hair or fur, but you should avoid using them. Over time, these things can actually gather more dust and moisture.
  • You can also use compressed air or a vacuum with a soft brush for the scenery. Be careful to work gently and follow the natural direction of the skin.
  • Use a Q-tip dipped in glass cleaner to clean the eyes, and then use a clean, dry swab to polish them.
  • Even the most prestigious museums and trophy rooms have had items damaged by insects. Moths and tiny demisted or carpet beetles are the two types of insects that are responsible for this problem, so it is worth fumigating the room regularly.
  • A fine repellent mist should be sprayed all over the mount, and then the product should be carefully combed into the hair. A blow dryer can be used to restore the fluffy appearance of the fur on animals that have it.


How much does an Hippo trophy cost?

The pricing of any trophy is subject to the costing stipulated per taxidermy order, quantity of trophies and preferred mounting options, along with additional requirements.

Should you wish to receive a quotation prior to the hunt, the taxidermist can generate such for you. Please contact [email protected]

How long does an Hippo trophy take?

Taxidermy is an art form that involves a complicated step-by-step process to make sure that each trophy looks just right and is of a high enough quality that it will last your whole life.

The time it takes a taxidermist to mount an animal might range from days to weeks, and possibly several months, depending on the quantity of trophies per taxidermy order, the display preferences, and volumes of client trophies to be produced, simultaneously, per production schedule.

This depends largely on the “what, how, when” factors. A taxidermy order also only becomes available for production scheduling upon receipt of the required deposit and trophy mounting instructions.

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