MOTHER GOOSE CABOOSE - Poetry Pals Hippo Facts Continue Back Home


Big and round,
Low to the ground.
Swims in the water
With a soft
Bellowing sound.

Leathery hide
On each side.
Stands in the water
With its mouth
Open wide.

Can you see its teeth inside?

- Ellen Baumwoll

Directions: Print out the animal picture and color. Cut out the pictures by cutting on the solid lines and dotted lines. Assemble the picture by connecting each end of the base piece with double-sided or scotch tape so the picture stands up. Print out the page with the poem and the facts and place it in your own poem book. Illustrate the poem. Write your own story or poem and add it to your poem book.


Hippo Facts.

The hippopotamus is a large, chiefly aquatic African mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, having dark, thick, almost hairless skin, short legs with four-toed hooves, a short tail, small ears, bulging eyes on top of the head adapted for underwater vision, and a large, broad, wide-mouthed, rounded muzzle.

Its skin secretes a sticky mucus that protects it and helps it to retain water on dry land. Front teeth incisors are horizontal and tusklike, adapted for rooting up aquatic (water) plants. They are cud-chewing mammals. Like all mammals they have hair, mostly on the inside of the ears and on the muzzle and tail.

The hippo is also called “river horse” because it is in the horse family and is adapted to the deep streams, lakes, rivers and grassy feeding grounds that form its habitat. The male is called a bull and weighs about 3 to 4 tons. The female is called a cow and weighs less. Young calves suckle milk from their mothers. Hippos live in herds of about 15 or 20. The hub of the group is the band of females and their young.

The group lives on territory patrolled by a dominant, solitary male who is at least 20 years old. He defends his territory. They spend 18 hours a day in water with only their eyes, ears, and nostrils above the surface to keep cool and minimize heat loss, and to support their huge bodies. At dusk and during the night, they leave their water retreat to feed in the grasslands bordering Africa’s lakes, streams and rivers but they always stay near water. They are fast runners.

Despite their massive weight, hippos can run faster than a man. Hippos communicate by roaring, foot-stamping, and scent-marking.