hippos skin close up, pink and brown colour

Why Is Hippos Sweat Red? (Is It Blood?)

The skin of the hippopotamus secretes a natural sunscreen that has 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 the blood sweat, the truth is, hippos don’t have any sweat glands on their skin like us humans. That means the secretion that is popularly known as the 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 orange pigment known as norhipposudoric acid. 

Both these pigments help the hippos to protect the skin from the harsh sun rays. The hipposudoric acid also acts as one of the most effective antibiotics that helps these enormous animals protect themselves from any 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 need to stay in the water for most of the day. Staying out of the water for too long can cause severe dehydration, which can cause skin cracks. That is why hippos generally do not stay out of the water for a longer period.

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 colour of the 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 the time in filthy water. 

Why does the sweat turn red?

Even though the hippos secrete fluid is transparent, it becomes red within a couple of minutes. The components of the transparent substance turn into crimson only after coming in contact with oxygen. That is what 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 sweat from a hippo. That makes the milk pink when it is exposed to oxygen. 

Why do hippos have pink milk?

The substance that hippos secrete is hipposudoric acid and norhipposudoric acid which protects them from skin infections and harsh sun rays. When it comes into contact with oxygen, it changes to reddish colour, and when mixed in 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.

The characteristics of this mucus can also help to deflect radiation and shield the skin of the hefty animals from infections.

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

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