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Why Is Hippopotamus Sweat Red?

Hippos might appear to sweat blood, but the truth is far less grisly. A hippopotamus doesn't actually perspire in the same way that humans do. Instead, it secretes a substance made up of a red pigment called hipposudoric acid and an orange pigment called norhipposudoric acid. Both secretions protect the hippo's skin from the sun. Hipposudoric acid also functions as an antibiotic.

More about hippos:

  • A hippo pregnancy lasts about eight months, and births usually take place during the rainy season.

  • The antibiotic properties of hippopotamus sweat are important to the health and survival of hippos. They often live in contaminated water and typically are covered with scratches and sores that result from frequent clashes with other hippos. Hipposudoric acid helps prevent these wounds from becoming infected.

  • Hippos like to graze at night and, on average, eat 88 pounds (40 kg) of vegetation each day.

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