Learn more about hippopotamus or hippos as they are more commonly known, including how much they weight, how fast they can run on land and where to see in the wild – and stay safe from an attack.
How much does a hippo weigh?
Hippopotamus are the second largest land animal after the elephant. Male hippos weigh 1,600–3,200kg, and females 650–2,350kg.
How much food do hippos eat?
Despite their size they eat just 1–1.5 per cent of their body weight every day.
Can hippos swim?
Hippos sink in water. They run along the river bottom instead of swimming.
How fast can a hippo run?
A hippo can match the speed of a human on land, but only for short distances. They are much faster – and more dangerous in water.
What noise does a hippo make?
Hippos tend to grunt, growl and moan, but can also make a roaring ‘chuffing’ s0und. In large groups, the noise can reach up to 115 decibels!
What is a group of hippos called?
A group of hippos can be called a bloat, pod or herd.
How dangerous are hippos?
The hippopotamus is a very aggressive wild creature and is the deadliest large land mammal on the planet. It is estimated that hippo attacks kill 500 people each year in Africa. It is not only their size and weight that makes them dangerous, but also their very sharp teeth!
How do hippos claim their territory?
When defecating, hippos swish their tails back and forth, scattering their droppings like a muck-spreader. The resulting slapping noise echoes downstream and helps proclaim territory.
What is the history of hippos in Britain?
Hippos, along with other megafauna such as lions and elephants, would have been a common sight in prehistoric Britain – their remains have been found underneath Trafalgar Square.
Are hippos at risk from poaching?
The international ban on trade in elephant ivory led to an increase of 530 per cent in the annual export of hippo teeth within two years. The animal’s canines measure upwards of 50cm in length.
Do hippos have more than one stomach like cows?
A hippo’s stomach has four chambers in which enzymes break down the tough cellulose in the grass that it eats. However, hippos do not chew the cud, so are not true ruminants like antelopes and cattle.
Can hippos be tamed?
A wild hippo named ‘Jessica’ often visits (and wanders into) the waterside home of South Africa’s Tonie and Shirley Joubert, who helped her out as a calf. But this is very much the exception rather than the rule – hippos are one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet.
How to avoid a hippo attack
Walking through the African bush in the dry season could bring you face to face with a hippopotamus. Here’s how to avoid a potentially dangerous and even fatal encounter.
Walking through the African bush in the dry season could bring you face to face with a hippopotamus. John Coppinger explains how to avoid a potentially dangerous and even fatal encounter.
Things to remember
Hippo safety advice:
- If you’re in a canoe, allow hippos plenty of space. Avoid rivers where numbers are concentrated.
- Tap the side of the boat to signal your position so hippos do not come up beneath you.
- Keep your distance when on foot. Avoid thickets where hippos may be skulking.
- Listen out for oxpecker calls – a warning sign that there may be a hippo around.
- As a last resort, use a tree or termite mound as cover.