Portfolio: Rutgers Preparatory Student Treehouses


A Day in the Life of a River Hippopotamus


A Day in the Life of A River Hippopotamus


Hello, my name is Tobo and I am a river hippopotamus.  I am a friendly hippo, who has brown skin that looks almost like the color of mud.  After looking at my reflection in the water, I noticed that my eyes were on the top of my head, and my ears were above my eyes.  I have two sharp things sticking from my mouth that are called tusks.  When I look at the other hippos in my pack, I notice that hippos are huge animals.  We are heavy and enormous animals who walk on four feet.  Everyday is an adventure out here in Africa.  I would like to share with you a typical day in my life.

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Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

This is a sketch of me

© hippo1

My Home  

My home is the river Congo.  The river doesn’t flow rapidly but is rather  slow and calm.  It is shallow so we hippos can stand.  The river is filled with many assortments of life such as grass and little fish.  I love grass which is my main food.  I eat fish but only on rare occasions.  I don’t like to eat other animals mainly because I am a nice hippo.  I also would probably get sick after eating another animal’s meat.  The river is also close to patches of land with a lot of grass.  I generally do not go very far from the river.  If I do my skin becomes very dry and sheds this very weird pink liquid which makes me very thirsty and dehydrated.


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Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

© William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International Photograph courtesy InsectImages.org (#1428053) Hippopotamuses in a river


My pack of hippos moves mostly at night which gives us a lot playing time during the day.  My friends, Cooco, and Hunter, are really cool.  Cooco is a small hippo who can swim fast underwater while Hunter is good at finding little fish and great at finding patches of grass on the shore of the river.  Everyday, Cooco, Hunter, and I will usually get up late and go searching for grass for breakfast.  We normally have a race to see who can find the most grass to eat.  Since we travel a lot everyday, we end up in a different part of the river everyday, forcing us to find a new patch each and every morning. We split up in different directions.  I usually find patches of grass on the shore.  Hunter  finds grass and sand at the bottom of the river while Cooco  just finds sprinkles of grass floating underwater.  We then meet up where we started and show where we found our breakfast to determine who won.  These races are never successful because we eat all the grass that we find and there is no way to judge how much grass we ate unless we cut each others' stomachs open.  It is always an interesting way to start the morning.  After our morning race for breakfast, we might find a nice, shady place to relax and play for the rest of the day before moving on to another location at night.

Playing and resting like a Hippopotamus

After Breakfast, Cooco, Hunter, and I find a place to play that is not too close or too far from the other hippos in the pack.  We want to be close to our pack in case a predator attacks us but not too close to other hippos that are resting. Usually the place that we find is in deep water that gives us enough room to swim.  After we find a place to play, we rest for some time thinking what we shall do.  Most of the time we start by having a competition to determine who the fastest swimmer is.  We are all pretty good swimmers so the competitions are usually neck and neck.  Sometimes however, we get tangled up with fish.  Fish come and attacking our skins. We are usually covered with algae.  The fish circle us and maybe even enter into our mouths trying to get the algae off us so they can have a dinner.  I don’t attack them because I think it is a good gesture, on their part, to make me clean.  Hunter, on the other hand, always tries to shake them off and tries to bite them if they are near his teeth.  Cooco normally ignores the fish.  Usually, I win the swimming races but sometimes Cooco would snag a race from under my nose.  After racing in the water, we  try another contest where we go out of the water and stand on land.  We try to find out how long we can last. We go back into the water when our skin lets out this pink liquid and become dry. Hippos can not live without water. This game is like a game humans play in which they hold their breaths while going underwater to see who can last the longest. When we get hungry after all these competitions, we go back to the pack and to our mothers and get ready for lunch. We usually find big patches of grass that are sufficient for lunch. We don't really eat that much during lunchtime. Our big meal comes during our night time travel.

Hippopotamus with mouth wide open

A hippopotamus showing its teeth  Hippopotamus amphibius. © 1997 Greg and Marybeth Dimijian

 After lunch, Cooco, Hunter, and I find other things to do.  We might look for fish, or go find big rocks to toss around.  However, most of the time, we do a lot of wrestling.  In our pack, fights occur only occasionally. They are usually between the males for either power or food.  Fights usually last for an hour or so.  The hippos use their teeth to injure the other.  Splashing happens often, and the hippos that are watching always get drenched by water. Finally, when a hippo is so badly injured that he can not continue, he leaves the pack or goes to another part of the river to heal.  When Hunter, Cooco and I fight, we wrestle each other. We find an area that is suitable for wrestling. We use boundary markers to determine the wrestling ring.  Usually the boundary markers are rocks, stones, leafs, or tree bark. It is like sumo wrestling.  We don't allow biting because a hippo's teeth are very sharp and can injure another hippo very badly.  My strategy is to head-butt either Cooco or Hunter, and to try to knock them out of bounds.  Then I gulp some water into my nose and then spray them with it. Then I try to head-butt them again to knock them out of bounds.  Usually I am unsuccessful though, and Hunter wins these wrestling matches.      

Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

My friends and I shoving each other during our wrestling  matches 
Hippopotamus amphibius. © Greg and Marybeth Dimijian


When it starts to get darker, we go back to the pack. We are afraid that we might get attacked by either crocodiles or other predators.  That has happened twice in our pack and fortunately none of us three were involved in any of those incidents.  We use more caution late at night.  So, we move slowly onward.  We do get out of the water in search of grass for dinner. During the night, our skins don't lose as much moisture so we don't get dehydrated as easily.  We might stop once in a while in case of predators.  We are always on the lookout for grass that can provide enough food for the pack.  Most of the time, we find patches of short grass on the shore that border the river.  We eat all the grass that we can find on the shores, but we still have more room for more food.  The pack moves for most of the night . We stop when we find a nice spot that has a good food supply for the next day.  The spot also needs to be quiet to allow us to rest peacefully. We get back into the water and go to sleep. We follow the same routine the next day when we wake up to the blistering sun.


So that was a basic, typical day for me. A hippo's life is fun but there is a lot of traveling and a hippo must be very cautious when it is out there on the river. 

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Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

A Hippopotamus outside of the river 

© 1996 Tim Knight

People's Reviews

I learned something new about hippos that I never knew - Brian, 6th grader

He put facts in his story that made it interesting - Hippo1's sister

It is interesting - Chris, 7th grader

Information on the Internet


Feldhake, Glen. Hippos Natural History and Conservation. : Publisher: Voyageur Press , 2005.

Wagner Brust , Beth . Hippos( ZooBook Series). : Wildlife Education, Ltd. , 1998.

Leach , Michael . Hippopotamus (Natural World). : Hodder Wayland , 2000.

Landstrom, Lena , and Joan Sandin. The New Hippos. 1st ed. : R & S Books, 2003.

Allen, Thomas B. Animals of Africa. : Hugh Lauter Levin Associates Inc, 1997.

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Author: hippo1
Classroom Project: A Day in the Life of a River Hippopotamus
Rutgers Preparatory School
Somerset, NJ USA

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Lisa Schwartz
University of Arizona

Rutgers Preparatory School

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lisa Schwartz at and Valerie Pierce at

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