hippos skin close up, pink and brown colour
Hippo sweat blood skin

Why Is Hippos Sweat Red? Interesting Apadtion And Guess What It’s Not Blood!

The hippopotamus’s skin secretes a natural sunscreen with a red colour to it. That is what most people consider as blood sweat. Even though the colour of the secretion is red, it is not blood. The discharge is primarily colourless. However, when it comes in contact with the air, within minutes, the colour of this discharge gets changed into red-orange. With time, this colour also changes further and turns deep brown in the end. This glandular discharge generates deep within the thick skin of the hippos. It is also thicker compared to human sweat.

Do hippos sweat the same as humans?

Even though the reddish discharge of the hippos is known as blood sweat, the truth is that hippos don’t have any sweat glands on their skin like us humans. That means the secretion that is popularly known as blood sweat is not precisely sweating. 

Hippos do not sweat in the same way as humans do. Instead, these gigantic animals secrete an element containing red pigments known as Hipposudoric acid and an orange pigment known as Norhipposudoric acid. 

Both these pigments help the hippos to protect their skin from the harsh sun rays. Hipposudoric acid also acts as one of the most effective antibiotics that helps these enormous animals protect themselves from cuts and other wounds.

The Importance of Secretion

The hippos have a unique skin texture, which needs to stay hydrated all the time. That is why hippos must remain in the water for most of the day. That is why hippos generally do not stay out of the water for longer. Staying out of the water for too long can cause severe dehydration, which can cause skin cracks.

If the hippos stay out of the water for a long time, they start to secrete a substance of red colour that creates a barrier on their skin. 

The red mucus makes the discharge look like blood, but it is not. The blood sweat creates a layer of mucus that protects the skin of the hippos from the harsh sun rays.

The mucus also helps to prevent infections. It also makes sure that their skin does not get dehydrated. That is one of the reasons why even the more extensive and nastier wounds of the hippos tend not to get infected, even if they spend most of their time in filthy water. 

Why does the sweat turn red?

Even though the hippo’s fluid is transparent, it becomes red within a few minutes. The components of the transparent substance turn into crimson only after coming in contact with oxygen. That prompted the first European explorers in Africa to name it blood sweat.

Do hippos have pink milk?

Yes, hippo milk is pink because it mixes with the sweat of a hippo. That makes the milk pink when it is exposed to oxygen. 

Why do hippos have pink milk?

The substances that hippos secrete are hipposudoric acid and norhipposudoric acid, which protect them from skin infections and harsh sun rays. When it comes into contact with oxygen, it changes to reddish colour, and when mixed with hippo milk, it turns pink.

Oxidative Meaning

Combining a substance with oxygen: When you mix a substance with oxygen, it is called oxidation. Sometimes when this happens, the atoms of an element lose electrons and the number of valence electrons increases.

The Benefits Of The Hippo Sweat

Even though hippos cannot live without water bodies, they have adapted to stay out in the blazing sun without getting sunburned, thanks to this layer of mucus. 

The unique structure of the sticky dispersed fluids makes it easier for the hippos to survive the harsh adversities of nature and water damage.

This mucus’s characteristics can also help deflect radiation and shield the skin of hefty animals from infections.

All in all, hippo sweat is like a powerful sunscreen and an antibiotic cream in one!

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.