Weird Fact: In the wild, hippos clean their teeth by allowing fish to swim in their mouths and nibble at their 3-foot long canines.
The hippopotamus – rated as Africa’s most dangerous large mammal – has been filmed undergoing a bizarre dental cleaning routine.
After months of waiting for the perfect shot, adventurous cameramen finally got the footage they were after with remote controlled underwater cameras. They filmed a hippo going underwater, opening its mouth (which can extend to 150 degrees), and allowing a number of helpful carp to swim inside and eat the plants and bacteria stuck on its teeth.
This symbiotic relationship is good for the hippo (how else are they going to clean their gnashers?) and the carp (who get an easy meal of algae directly off the hippo’s ivories).
Check out the amazing footage of a hippo cleaning its teeth this way:
Hippos in Captivity
Meanwhile, a hippo in captivity was caught cleaning its teeth with the help of a local zebra. Visitors at Zurich Zoo in Switzerland were treated to the bizarre 15-minute display of a zebra ambling up to the waters edge and sticking its head in the hippo’s gaping mouth.
Despite having killed hundreds of people in Africa, and possessing powerful jaws and canines that can cut a crocodile in half, the hippo and its baby are kept in the same zoo enclosure as the zebra.
That’s because hippos like to feed on grass and water plants, only attacking other mammals when their defenses are up. Which explains why the neighbor zebra felt confident enough to mince over and have a chew on its teeth. The hippo, of course, was quite happy to oblige.