Hippopotamus Feeding

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Hippopotamus Feeding

The hippopotamus consumes a mostly herbivorous diet in the wild. Grasses, supplemented with nutrient-rich fruits, seem to make up the great majority of their food consumption; they also enjoy small shoots and reeds emerging from the ground, but aquatic plants seem to form a surprisingly small percentage of their diet. Pygmy hippos, by contrast, eat a higher proportion of leaves and roots than grasses. On very rare occasions, common hippos have been observed eating dead animals, but there’s some debate about how often this actually occurs in the wild.

Traditionally, it was argued that the hippo scavenges for meat only during exceptional times of food scarcity, because their stomachs are not adapted for meat consumption. However, one scientific study from 2015 argues that the hippo is not just limited to scavenging carcasses; this carnivorous behavior is actually part of a much larger pattern of meat-eating. The hippo has been known to attack and consume other animals and even steal meat from predators; wildebeests, zebras, and kudus seem to be among their more common kills. They’ve even been seen engaging in cases of cannibalism with members of the same species. The paper argues that hippo’s digestive system is not a barrier for eating meat, as it’s been traditionally assumed, and cases of carnivorous behavior are underreported because it’s difficult to observe them eating at night.

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