Hippopotamuses are big, spherical, water-loving mammals endemic to Africa. The term “hippopotamus” is derived from the Greek word for “water horse” or “river horse,” despite the fact that hippos and horses are unrelated. The hippopotamus breed has two species: the common hippopotamus and the pygmy hippopotamus. The common hippopotamus, or hippo, is a big, herbivorous aquatic mammal. Hippopotamuses (or hippopotami) are African in origin, and the common hippopotamus is the third-largest living land animal after elephants and white rhinos. They are known for their unbelievable sound that make them different from others? But what sound does a hippo make different from other animals.
Hippos are sociable creatures who congregate in groups known as schools, bloats, pods, or sieges. Hippos schools typically have 10 to 30 members, including both males and females, while some groups have as many as 200 members. The school, regardless of size, is usually commanded by a domineering male.
What Sound Does a Hippo Make?
What sound does a hippo make? It’s a question that has long piqued the interest of both researchers and casual onlookers. Hippos are one of the few creatures that can make a variety of sounds both underwater and on land. While the precise significance of all of these vocalizations is still unknown, they do provide an important glimpse into the inner lives of these intriguing creatures.
Hippos rely on vocal communication to express their feelings and preserve their social order. Hippos may be heard wheezing, grunting, and bellowing, among other vocalizations, both on land and underwater. Their amphibious communication facilitates emotional expression and social connection. The vocalizations of hippos increase in volume during the mating season when they perform courting and territorial displays. To establish dominance and entice prospective mates, males roar loudly and distinctively, which may be heard over great distances. Males use these vocalizations to get access to reproductive chances while simultaneously discouraging competitor males. In contrast, females produce unique, high-pitched vocalizations that function as alluring mating calls, driving male competition and ensuring the strongest and fittest males have greater reproductive success.
Hippos can also generate low, echoing sounds called bellow that may cover a substantial distance, confirming that their message is heard across wide areas.
Power of their Sound
The majority of hippos’ sounds are made to communicate far away. Underwater, their low-frequency growls and grunts can be heard for a great distance. The same thing is accomplished by their audible gasping sounds on land. Hippos can also make softer noises, such as mild squeaks and croaks, which are thought to be used for social interaction. Hippos may communicate verbally as well as nonverbally through body language. By yawning, which spreads their lips wide and reveals their long canines, they may demonstrate their authority. Additionally, they employ a variety of postures and gestures to convey a variety of ideas.
Though the purpose of some hippo vocalizations is well-documented, there remain several unanswered questions surrounding certain sounds. For instance, high-pitched vocalizations resembling birdcalls intrigue researchers due to their distinctive nature and mysterious purpose. While theories suggest these sounds may serve as an alarm call, a means of communication between mothers and calves, or even a form of individual identification, further investigation is necessary to draw definitive conclusions.
Amphibious or Under-water Communication Vocalization
Hippos move about by walking down the riverbed. When they relax, they spend the majority of their time semi-submerged in the shallows of the water. Because of their distinctive lifestyle, around 80% of hippo interaction takes place beneath the water’s surface. Therefore, they need to use some substantial sound to communicate underwater with their peers. So, naturally, the question arises, what sound does a hippo make underwater?
Hippos may not have the same level of vocal communication as dolphins, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own unique set of sounds. Hippos have a range of underwater and above-water noises that make up their language. Dolphins are often thought of as the distant relatives of hippos; however, hippos have the ability to interact both above and below the water’s surface. The noises that are heard above the surface are made by their nostrils and are used to signal other hippos in the area.
While below the water, the hippos use their plump necks and jawbones to create a unique sound that carries far distances. Unlike dolphins, hippos are not capable of vocal communication, and their noises are instead used to communicate with one another. The noises that they make underwater are used to mark territory and attract mates, while the above-water noises are used to scare away predators and announce their presence. Hippos are also capable of making a sound known as “honking,” which is used to warn other hippos of danger. This honking sound is made when they exhale their breath and can be heard by other hippos from up to two kilometers away.
Hippos’ Communication Skills
Hippos’ communication skills have evolved to match their semi-aquatic habitat, resulting in a sophisticated underwater communication system. While submerged, hippos generate a variety of noises that serve diverse functions. The following are your answer to the question what sound does a hippo make when they are underwater:
- Hippos communicate with their peers even when their heads are underwater by making a succession of short, piercing sounds.
- Grunts and hums, which are essentially underwater versions of vocalizations used on land, enable hippos to establish social relationships, communicate emotions, and navigate their watery habitat.
- Although not as developed as in certain marine animals, research indicates that hippos may utilize echolocation to navigate and locate impediments in murky waters.
Hippos require underwater communication to stay linked with others, create strong social relationships, and better adapt to their aquatic environment. What sound does a hippo make decides how well they coexist within their community or with other elements of the environment. The ability of hippopotamus communication systems to make noises both on land and underwater illustrates their adaptability and resourcefulness.
The Bottom Line
The vocalizations of hippos go far beyond what meets the ear. Through this deep dive into the acoustic world of hippos, we have begun to unravel the intricate system of communication that pervades their social interactions and territorial displays.