A hippo’s sweat is bright red in colour and protects the animal from UV rays and infectious bacteria.

The hippopotamus – meaning “river horse” – is a creature, which puzzled the ancient Greeks by appealingly sweating blood.
But this red substance is a lot less terrifying: The red-coloured glandular secretion known as “hippo sweat” contains microscopic structures that scatter light, protecting the hefty mammals from getting sunburnt. And that’s not the only revolutionary advantage of the substance. Research reveals that it also regulates temperature and discourages the growth of bacteria.

The hippo’s sweat is made up of two pigments – one red, called “hipposudoric acid” and the other orange, called “norhipposudoric acid”.
Scientists believe these two substances are produced from a metabolite of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).
Both pigments act as sun blocks and the red one, they discovered, is a particularly good antibiotic.
It can inhibit the growth of two types of infectious bacteria. This is useful for hippos, because they are terrible fighters that end up with scratches and wounds all over their bodies. The antiseptic sweat helps the skin to prevent infections.

In the future, scientists hope to create a product inspired by hippo sweat that we may be used to protect our own skin from UV rays.

Other trials will show if it is also possible to replicate the antiseptic and insect-repellent characteristics of the sweat, to obtain a four-in-one product: sunscreen, sunblock, antiseptic, insect repellent.

Some rumours have been rotating around the internet about the mother’s milk of these animals being of bright pink colour because of the red pigments in the sweat. But there is no scientific evidence for this phenomenon, as the sweat is formed on the outside of the skin and should not intermix with the milk of a female hippo especially since digesting those acidic pigments will not benefit the young offspring.

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