Home Animals Hippo Size: How Much Does a Hippo Weigh?

Hippo Size: How Much Does a Hippo Weigh?

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hippo size

It’s hard to believe that something as large as a hippopotamus could exist, but they do in large numbers. They are some of the heavyweights in nature, which can be recognized by their massive size & aggressive behavior. These qualities have earned them a spot as Africa’s deadliest animal time and time again.

Although it is difficult to visualize their size without seeing one in person, illustrations and specifics might assist in understanding their measurements. Let’s investigate and learn how much does a hippo weigh.

how much does a hippo weigh

How much does a hippo weigh?

When it comes to size, hippos are no slouches. They weigh in at a whopping 1 to 4.5 tonnes or 2,200-9,900 lbs. That puts them firmly in the running for “World’s Heaviest Land Animal,” alongside African elephants (12 tons) and Asian elephants (8.15 tons).

They even give the African forest elephant (6 tons) a run for its money. When it comes to size, only elephants have the upper hand over hippos. There is one contender, though, whose size is comparable to theirs: the white rhinoceros. On average, hippos and white rhinos weigh the same amount. 

When do Hippos Attain their Maximum Weight?

Although hippos are among the largest animals on the planet, they are very small at birth. The average weight of a hippopotamus infant is 50 pounds, a fraction of its eventual adult weight. Hippos gain up to one pound per day throughout their first six months of existence.

This growth continues until they reach adulthood, which for females can occur as late as 25 years of age. In general, females mature more rapidly than males, but both sexes continue to develop throughout their lives. The 240-day gestation period of hippos is comparable to that of humans.

Consequently, baby hippos exhibit many similarities with human infants, including their size and nutritional dependency on breast milk. Unlike humans, though, hippos are weaned from milk after 18 months and begin consuming only plants.

female hippo weight

How Much do Both Male and Female Hippos weigh?

While male and female hippos may not weigh the same, they both go through different growth rates. Females are the smaller of the two, with the average weight being 3,300 lbs. They will stay with their mother until age 8, at which time they will be considered fully mature.

Even though they are fully grown at this age, they continue to grow until they are 25 years old. This is when their growth stops. 

Male hippos are significantly larger than their female counterparts, with adults weighing up to 7,000 lbs. While females typically max out in size at around age 25, males continue to grow throughout their lives. This difference in size is thought to be the result of different mating patterns.

Female hippos tend to form long-term bonds with a single male, while males are more promiscuous, mate with multiple females, and compete fiercely for dominance. These different mating habits likely lead to different growth patterns, with females maturing more quickly but males continuing to grow well into adulthood. 

hippo family

Which Hippopotamus was the Largest in History?

 

Determining the largest hippo in history is difficult. Since males never stop growing, they hold the majority of records for the largest hippos in history. The largest wild hippo ever reported was 15 feet in length and weighed 8,000 pounds.

The largest hippo ever documented was a prisoner in a German zoo. The 16-foot monster weighed 9,900 pounds, or the equivalent of three Honda Accords fused together!

There are two main species of hippo: the common hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the pygmy hippo (Hippopotamus pygmaeus). The common hippo is the largest species, and it can weigh up to 8,000 pounds.

The pygmy hippo is much smaller, and it only weighs about half as much as the common hippo. Both species are considered endangered.

The German hippo is the largest hippo on record, weighing in at 9,900 pounds. However, there is evidence that there was once a larger species of hippo called Hippopotamus gorgops. H. gorgops ranged in modern-day Africa and was similar in size to the German hippo, but it may have been even larger.

Since we can only guess the average weight of H. gorgops based on fossils, it is possible that this prehistoric ancestor of the modern-day hippo could have reached weights of over 10,000 pounds.

The pygmy hippo is the smallest species of Hippopotamidae, and it is also the smallest living land mammal. Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa and can be found in forested areas and swamps. These animals set a record for size, but in a more downward manner.

They are still alive today but are considered endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. Pygmies typically weigh between 275 and 550 pounds and measure between 2 and 3 feet tall at the shoulder.

hippo in water

How Much Food do Hippos Eat Everyday?

As infants, hippos begin their diet with milk. As they are born and spend most of their life in the water, they learn to breastfeed as their moms swim around. Contrary to popular belief, hippo milk is not pink but nourishing.

According to one source, one cup of hippo milk contains 500 calories. This makes logical given the rate at which hippos must gain weight to avoid becoming prey for other animals.

As they age, they begin to consume various foods, primarily vegetation. At the age of 18 months, hippos begin to include more grass and aquatic vegetation in their meals. On average, hippos consume 88 pounds of food every day. This may seem like a lot, yet it represents only 1.5% of their body weight.

Humans, for instance, consume approximately 0.5% of their body weight. Hippos spend up to 16 hours each day grazing and eating in order to adequately digest all of their meals. Given that they only sleep for approximately six hours, this indicates that they spend nearly 75 percent of their day eating.

The majority of the plant matter they consume is cellulose, which is easier to digest than other plant materials.

hippo eating grass

Do Hippos Have any Natural Predators?

Hippos are large, semi-aquatic, and native to African mammals. Given their size and power, one could assume that hippos have few natural predators. Generally speaking, you would be correct. Occasionally, lions will hunt hippos, but this is uncommon. It takes the hippo to be captured out of the water and a very large bunch of ravenous lions.

Additionally, crocodiles and hippos coexist without too much conflict. It is extremely rare for a crocodile to capture an unattended young hippo. Conversely, hippos are known to capture and kill crocodiles that refuse to leave watering spots they regard to be their territory.

In reality, humans pose the greatest threat to hippos. Poaching, habitat loss, and hunting have contributed to population declines. Pygmy hippos, the only other living species aside from the well-known African variety, are especially vulnerable and may become extinct in the wild during our lifetimes if we do not take an effort to protect them.

Read our other Hippo blogs below:

Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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