Hippo vs Rhino: Are They Related And Can They Co-Exist In The Wild?

Ritwik Bhuyan
Mar 09, 2023 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Two hippo calfs in Saint Lucia.

Both hippos and rhinos are large, gray, herbivorous mammals and are differentiated by the one or two horns present on the rhinoceros.

Whenever we discuss large mammals and animals, we always think of elephants, big apes like the orangutans, or giraffes. We rarely look towards rhinos and hippos, when they are one of the biggest mammals out there.

The hippopotamus is considered one of the most aggressive animals on the planet. When we see hippos from far away, they seem cute and docile.

But if you encroach on their habitat or come near their young, hippos will become aggressive and rush you. Hippos are one of the most ferocious beasts found in Africa.

Rhinos are also similarly sized to hippos and have five known species - Indian rhinos, black rhinos, white rhinos, Javan rhinos, and Sumatran rhinos. Both African mammals are distinct in their behavior and appearance. Both these mammal species are herbivores that stay inland.

Hippos are also seen inside water most of the time but come towards land to feed. Rhinos are less aggressive than hippos and live mostly alone.

Male species of rhinos like to be solitary and only seen together in a pair during mating. Female species too stay alone and are only seen together with their calves.

While feeding, hippos would generally come out of the water at dusk and travel long distances, up to 5 mi (8 km) to feed on short grasses. Rhinos too feed on short grasses, however, in a lesser amount than the hippo species.

These two large African animals are quite popular all over the world. Various species have different physical appearances. Some are even endangered currently, albeit critically.

A hippo is a semi-aquatic large African animal. The physical features include a large head, a large mouth, thick skin, and short legs. Adult species of hippo weigh an average of 7000 lb (3175 kg).

Hippos usually stay submerged in water most of the time during the day. Only the ears and nose stay out of the water.

Humans should beware as they can charge if threatened. On the other hand, a rhino is a large animal with thick skin, one or two horns from the snout (depending on the species), and short legs. The horns are made of keratin.

Keratin is a hair-like protein. These horns have made rhinos the target of poachers as they even kill these magnificent creatures to procure the beautiful horns. Rhinos are much larger and heavier than hippos, while hippos have four toes on each foot and rhinos have three.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about how long can hippos hold their breath and what is a group of hippos called here on Kidadl.

Who would win a rhino or a hippo?

There are very few instances of a rhino and hippo clashing in the wild, though both mammal species are highly territorial.

The hippopotamus is far more aggressive than the rhinoceros.

Rhino species when they fight among each other, just clash their horns and pee on each other, while hippo species if they see someone coming into their territory would become very agitated and charge.

If a hippo clashes with a rhino, the aggressiveness of the former might become an advantage, but the horns and the larger size and weight of the rhino might become an advantage.

There are too many similarities between the species and this is why both hippopotamus and rhinoceros do not indulge in fighting in the wild.

Which is more dangerous a hippo or a rhino?

In terms of being aggressive, a hippo will always be more dangerous than a rhino.

A hippo is very territorial and will attack humans if the animal sees you entering the area or come near the calves. A rhino won't be as aggressive as a hippo, however, it will still be very territorial.

In Africa, a hippo is considered the most ferocious animal there is. The average weight of a rhino is also more, but they are solitary and less aggressive.

Can rhinoceros and hippopotamus coexist?

Both the hippo and rhino are herbivores and can coexist in the same habitat.

There are not many clashes between the two animals as both species are almost similar. They are not very closely related as people think, but yes, they can co-exist.

The females of both species give birth to one young.

Are hippos and rhinos related?

They are not as related as you would think.

The hippopotamus is a semi-aquatic animal while rhinoceros are mostly found on land. Both the species have short legs.

Both hippopotamus and rhinoceros are herbivores. A hippopotamus has a large mouth and teeth, while a rhino has a flat broad mouth used for grazing in the grass.

The black rhino has a pointed lip to grasp leaves. A hippopotamus has no horns or humps, while a rhino will have a single horn or two horns depending on the species. The black rhino, white rhino, and Sumatran rhino have two distinct horns, while the Indian rhino and the Javan rhino have one horn on the mouth.

The large head of the white rhinoceros is supported by the hump on the back of the body. Both male and female Indian rhinos have just one horn.

The body of a rhinoceros (white rhino) is big with a large head, a short neck, and a large chest. The body of a hippopotamus is stocky with a barrel-shaped torso, a large mouth and teeth, a hair-less body, short legs, and a large size. The head is proportionate in adult hippos.

The average weight of the white rhino is 7716 lb (3500 kg). The Indian rhino weighs between 5515-7054 lb (2500-3200 kg).

Adult male hippos have an average weight of around 3968 lb (1800 kg) while females are smaller at around 3306 lb (1500 kg). Older male hippos are much larger. Male hippos grow throughout their lives, whereas females grow until the age of 25.

Habitat Of Rhino And Hippo

They live in the same kind of habitats.

Hippos are found in semi-aquatic habitats like rivers, lakes, slow-moving water areas, and places with good quality grass grazing. They mostly spend the day submerged in water and only come out at night to go for a feast.

Rhinoceros, on the other hand, are found on land. The white rhinoceros live in open woodland with lots of grass and water.

There are two species of hippo - pygmy hippo and common hippo. There are five different species of rhino - Indian rhino, white rhinos, black rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros, and Sumatran rhinoceros.

The Indian rhinoceros is endangered and is threatened a lot by poaching. There have been a lot of killings of the adult Indian rhinoceros for the keratin-made horn that is attached to the body.

The pygmy hippopotamus has been seen in some reserves of West Africa too.

Diet Of Rhino And Hippo

Both rhinoceros and hippopotamus are herbivores.

Both the species feed on grasses, trees, and bushes.

Conservation Status Of A Rhino And Hippo

It is a cause for concern when you get to know about the killing of these animals in the wild.

The population of hippos in sub-Saharan Africa is around 150,000. They are threatened by poachers for their meat and ivory teeth.

There are around 17,000 white rhinos found along with 4,200 black rhinos. In a census done in 2007, only 200 Sumatran rhinos, 50 Javan rhinos, and 2620 Indian rhinos were found in the wild. Humans are known to kill the rhinos for their horns.

Sumatran, Javan, and black rhinos are considered critically endangered while the Indian rhino is considered endangered currently. The white rhino is categorized as vulnerable.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for hippo vs rhino, then why not take a look at what do rhinos eat or can hippos swim.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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