Home Animals Hippo Pregnancy | How Long Does a Hippo Pregnancy Last?

Hippo Pregnancy | How Long Does a Hippo Pregnancy Last?

hippo pregnancy

A hippo pregnancy lasts about 240 days or about 8 months. This is comparable to the duration of a human pregnancy. 

During the first trimester, the fetus grows rapidly, and by the end of the second trimester, it is about half the size of an adult hippo. 

The third trimester is when the majority of the growth occurs, and the fetus doubles in size. Near the end of the pregnancy, the mother hippo will begin to prepare a den where she will give birth. 

And giving birth to a new hippo is no easy feat – newborns typically weigh between 55 and 120 pounds. The baby hippo will stay close to its mother for the first few months of its life, but will eventually become independent. 

After giving birth, the first challenge for a mother hippo is to keep her new baby safe from predators. Fortunately, hippos are very protective of their young and will often form groups to help defend against predators. 

pregnant hippo

Hippopotamus Reproduction

The reproductive cycle of the hippopotamus is fascinating and unique in many ways. For starters, a female hippo does not reach sexual maturity until she is 4 years old. However, she will not start mating until she is 7 or 8 years old. 

After giving birth, a female hippo will not ovulate for about 18 months. This is a rare case among land mammals, and it helps to explain why the hippo population has remained relatively stable over time.

How do hippos mate

Hippos are unique animals that have many interesting mating habits. For example, instead of using their tails to swat at flies like other animals, they use them to attract mates. Male hippos will often throw their tails in the air and swat them around to get the attention of females. 

Once a female is interested, the two hippos will start to circle each other. They will then touch each others’ heads and backs with their tails as a way of showing affection. After a while, the male will be mounting the female and they will mate. Hippos usually mate in water, which makes sense given their love of swimming.

If you’re picturing a romantic scene of two hippos floating in the water, entwined in each other’s trunk, you might want to adjust your expectations. While it’s true that hippopotamuses mate in the water, the process is far from gentle. 

Due to their enormous size, male hippos often have difficulty getting on top of the females when it’s time to mate. As a result, the mating process is often rough and aggressive, with the male using his immense weight to force himself onto the female. While this may not be pleasant for the hippos involved, it is necessary for successful breeding. In fact, Hippos are one of the few African land mammals that mate in the water. 

hippo mating

Female hippos emerge from the water to take a breath every few minutes during the mate, while male hippos remain on top of them and are quite aggressive. It is easier for the male hippo to get on top of the female hippo and float during copulation because of their ability to float. 

The female hippo is often forced by the male hippo to have sexual activity, and this is a common occurrence throughout most of the hippo’s life cycle as they mate with multiple partners.

Place of mating

Hippos typically mate in the water. The male hippo will approach a female that he is interested in and try to vocalize to her underwater. If the female is receptive, she will allow him to chase her and vocalize back to him. 

hippo herd

Mating Season of Hippo

Hippos don’t have a specific season for mating, but the wet season (May and June) is when the sexual activities of hippopotamuses increase. 

It can be said that they seem to choose the end of the dry seasons as well as the beginning of the rainy seasons for mating. This is likely due to the fact that these times offer more plentiful resources, such as food and water. 

Do hippos mate for life?

Hippopotami are polygamous animals, meaning that they mate with several partners during their lifetime. However, this doesn’t mean that they are constantly sexually active.

After successful mating, the female Hippopotamus usually doesn’t mate again for two years. This is because the female hippo doesn’t ovulate quickly after giving birth to a baby hippo. As a result, mating generally occurs once in two years.

The gestation period of a female hippopotamus is around eight months. This lengthy gestation period is due to the size of the hippo calf at birth, which is usually about one hundred pounds. Hippos are considered to be k-strategist animals because they have a low reproductive rate but a high parental investment. This strategy is often seen in animals with long lifespans and large body sizes, like elephants.

This means that the mother hippo takes care of the newborn until it reaches maturity. Since female hippos have fewer offspring, they spend more time parenting each individual child.

Hippo Breeding Facts

Hippos mate every two years, and are polygamous, meaning that males mate with several females. When a female hippo is ready to mate, the male hippo smells her urine and her back to detect this. To Judge, if a male hippo is in heat, one can look for sexually active behaviors such as peeing and pooping, which the hippo will then spread with its tail to get the female’s attention.

The male hippo then takes the female into the water to copulate; the female is submerged and periodically raises her head up to breathe. Although this process may seem interesting, there are more breeding facts about these animals that are unknown to many people. 

  • Male and female hippos reach sexual maturity at different ages. Males become sexually mature at around 7 years old, while females reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years old. However, hippos do not mate until they are at least 7 to 8 years old.
  • After mating, the female hippo isolates herself for several days before giving birth. Baby hippos are born hind legs first, and mothers often give birth in water to save energy and protect their young from land-based threats.
  • Mother hippos return to their groups after a few days, once the baby hippo has recognized her as its mother. Giving birth is taxing for a hippo mother, but the process is essential for continuing the species.

While hippos and rhinos may look similar, they actually have very different gestation periods. The average pregnancy for a hippo lasts around eight months, while the average pregnancy for a rhino lasts between 15 and 16 months. This is due to the fact that hippos are born much smaller than rhinos, and therefore their gestation period is shorter. Additionally, hippos give birth to one baby at a time, while rhinos usually give birth to two or three. Consequently, the length of pregnancy is an important way to distinguish between these two animals.

Hippo Gives Birth in Kenya

GenrePregnancy duration
Hippopotamus (Common)8 months
No of babies born for Hippo1 baby at a time
Baby Hippo sizeBig
Rhinoceros15 to 16 months
No of babies born for Rhino3 to 4 at a time
Baby Rhino SizeSmall

Hippopotamus pregnancy

Hippopotamuses are going to have a gestation period of about eight months. After a successful mating with the male Hippo, the female hippopotamus will have to endure a greater challenge, which is giving birth to a newborn hippopotamus that might weigh up to 110 pounds. The mother hippopotamus will have to go through a lot of pain and suffering during childbirth, but she will ultimately overcome it and give birth to a healthy baby hippo.

pregnant hippo 3

Place of giving birth

The place of giving birth is an important decision for many mothers. Hippos, usually prefer shallow water to give birth. The mother hippo stays away from the herd and stays with her baby for about two weeks after giving birth. Mother hippos feel comfortable giving birth both on land and in the water. If a mother gives birth in the water, she is to push her calf to the surface to save it from breathing complexity. 

How big is a newborn hippo

A newborn hippo weighs between 55 and 120 pounds and is about 3 feet long. When they are born, their skin is wrinkled and reddish-brown. They have a thin layer of body fat that helps to keep them warm. Their eyes are open, and they have small horns on their forehead. Although they are born in the water, they can hold their breath for up to six minutes. 

How Many Babies Do Hippos Have

When it comes to the reproductive cycle of hippos, it is interesting to note that they have a very long gestational period. In fact, it takes eight months for a hippo to give birth to a single baby. After the baby is born, the mother and child will join other members of their group. Interestingly, hippos secrete a red sweat when they are out of the water and it is warm outside.

This sweat is also known as blood sweat and it helps to moisturize the hippo’s skin. Additionally, blood sweat is believed to help in the healing of wounds. Although hippos don’t actually sweat, this bodily secretion helps to keep them cool and moisturized. 

4 Common Signs Of A Hippo Pregnancy

  1. One of the most obvious signs is weight gain; as the hippo grows larger, her appetite will increase, and she will consume more food.
  2. Another common symptom is morning sickness; like human mothers-to-be, hippos may experience nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.
  3. Hippos can conceive even when they are on birth control; in Mara’s case, she became pregnant despite being on contraception.
  4. While hippos typically give birth in water, Mara delivered her calf on land. 
hippopotamus with baby

What Age Do Hippos Have Babies

Hippos reach sexual maturity at the age of 5 to 6 years old. Females will usually give birth to one calf at a time, though twins are not unheard of. The gestation period for a hippo is about eight months, after which the mother will spend several weeks caring for her young calf. Once the calf is grown, it will leave its mother’s pod and join a group of other young hippos. Hippos typically live for around 40 years in the wild.

How Many Babies Do Hippos Have In A Lifetime

On average, a hippo will give birth to 18 calves during its lifetime, and each calf can weigh up to 100 pounds at birth. Hippos have a relatively short gestational period of around eight months, so they can produce young at a rapid clip. Although they are large and seemingly lumbering animals, hippos are actually quite agile and can give birth both on land and in water. newborn hippos are able to hold their breath for up to 40 seconds, which is handy for underwater births.

Hippos typically live for around 36 years, so they have plenty of time to raise their young. Pygmy hippos, which are smaller than their African cousins, also have high reproductive rates and can have up to 14 offspring during their lifetime.


Now that you know everything there is to know about pregnant hippos, you can go out and enjoy observing them in their natural habitat. Keep in mind that they are herbivores, so they will primarily be eating greens. However, they may also eat meat and carrion on occasion. They are also nocturnal creatures, so you will likely only see them active at night. And finally, remember that female hippos are typically smaller than male hippos. With all of this information in mind, you should have no trouble spotting and enjoying these amazing animals.

Read our other Hippo blogs below:

Author Profile
Jeevan Kodiyan
Zoologist | Wildlife Conservation at Animals Research

An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

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