Common/Nile/River Hippo

Common/River/Nile Hippo   Hippopotamus amphibius

Type of Animal:

Rivers, swamps, lakes, marshes, wet grassland, floodplains

Africa, S. of the Sahara, near bodies of water

Purple-gray color w/ some pink, bull larger than cow, ivory canine teeth, very fat & plump.

Grass, fruit, leaves, field crops

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Herds consist of dominant bull, 10-50 cows & calves, plus older offspring, & sometimes, several subordinate bulls on the fringes. Bachelor herds of 5-20 animals also occur. Solitary bulls occur as well.

Additional Info:


Male-1.65-3.55 tons
Female-1.45-1.65 tons
Young-250-500 lbs

8 months

Male-4.92 ft
Female-4.75 ft

Body Length:
Male-12 ft
Female-11 ft

Life Span: 
45 years in wild, up to 55 years in captivity

Tail Length:
1.83 ft, same for both sexes

Only predators of adults are lions. Crocodiles & hyenas sometimes prey on young adult cows, but mostly eat calves & juveniles, bull sharks take calves & juveniles, leopards only take calves. 

Fights often leading cause of death among bulls. Those that survive often have horrific battle scars from slashing of tusks.

Despite lumbering size, they can run up to 30 mph on land.

Declining due to hunting for ivory/meat/skin, habitat loss, & persecution as crop pests.

Their name means “river horse.” Once thought to be most closely related to pigs but in fact closest relatives are whales.

When new dominant bull takes over, calves sometimes killed in process.

Fun Fact(s):
DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THEIR APPEARANCE-While they may look cute & cuddly, they’re in fact the most dangerous large animal in Africa, and can be extremely aggressive, especially cows w/ calves, territorial bulls, wounded hippos, or if human between land & water. Ivory tusks can easily bite a boat and/or a person in half. In captivity, some hippos are fairly gentle but they’re still untrustworthy.

3 thoughts on “Common/Nile/River Hippo

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