Canadian House Hippo

Oh Canada. Myself and 37 million other Canadians are lucky to call the True North our home. And like 1/5th of Canadians, I wasn’t born here, and missed a lot of the traditional Canadian upbringing. But I’ve been here now for 7 ½ years, and am proud to be a Permanent Resident (hopefully soon a Citizen), and I’m starting to learn new things about my new found home - including some of the weird and wonderful native flora and fauna.

Of everything I’ve discovered since being here, without a doubt my favourite has been the Canadian (well technically North American) House Hippo.

The North American House Hippo is officially listed as being “found across Canada and the Northeastern United States”, though it’s a well known fact that they primarily live up here in the True North.


They’re small creatures - only about the size of a hamster, and chances most Canadians have one living in their household and don’t even know it. They’re nocturnal and make their nests in bedroom closets using lost mittens, dryer lint, bits of string and anything soft really, as they sleep around 16 hours a day.

As they’re shy, they wait for you to go to bed,  then they venture out in search of food and water, and materials for their nests. Their favourite foods are chips, raisins and the crumbs from peanut butter on toast, and they sometimes make a rare appearance at breakfast for the chance to find their beloved peanut butter on toast crumbs.

They are incredibly shy, so unless they’re really craving PB toast crumbs, or you’re up in the middle of the night, you’ll likely go your whole life without ever seeing one. They are generally pretty timid, but they will protect themselves if provoked by you pet cat or dog, or whatever else is lurking in your house at night.

So when you visit Ottawa for True North Dreamin, you most likely won’t be lucky enough to spot a house hippo, even in the middle of the night, as the staff at the Crowne Plaza Ottawa-Gatineau run a tight ship and don’t have crumbs lying around, but fear not! The TND team are working hard to give you an authentic Ottawa experience!

If you’re curious and want to learn more about this domestic night dweller, you can watch this video for more information.

Clever public service announcement from Concerned Children's Advertisers (Canada), 2000.

Obviously the House Hippo is not actually real, but is actual from a beloved 90s Canadian Commercial encouraging children to question what they see on TV. Enjoy!

Zarina Varley Scott