What Do Hippos Eat?

What do hippos eat?
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What Do Hippos Eat? Hippos are the third-largest land animals after elephants and rhinos (white).

Hippos mostly consume herbivorous diet. They draw their nutrients mainly from grass, and they can supplement this with fruits.

Table of Contents

What Do Hippos Eat?

Type of Hippo Diet
The Common Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) Herbivorous diet (grass & leaves). In rare scenarios, they feed on meat.
The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis or Choeropsis liberiensis) Herbivorous diet includes leaves, ferns, fruits, and roots found next to rivers and streams.

Hippos Diet by Types

Scientists indicate that two hippo species exist in the world today. One species is referred to as the common hippopotamus and the second is dubbed pygmy hippo.

As much as these giant creatures pretty much resemble pigs, scientists have shown that hippos are more closely related to the cetaceans (a category of aquatic mammals that includes dolphins and whales).

More insight into these two hippo species will be offered in this section.

What Does Common Hippopotamus Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Hippopotamidae Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius

What do common hippos eat?

The common hippo mainly consumes a herbivorous diet. It climbs steep river banks to feed on grass. There are reports on carnivory and cannibalism among these hippos, meaning that in rare scenarios, they feed on meat.

  • The common hippopotamus is an enormous barrel-shaped organism which has adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
  • The males of these massive creatures can grow to lengths of between 3.3 and 5 meters and an average height of about 1.6 meters.
  • Females weigh about 1,400 kg and males between 1,600 and 4,500 kg.
  • These mammals mostly spot a purple-gray color, with brown and pink coloration on their eyes and ears.
  • The common hippo species is native to African countries located south of Sahara.
  • These countries include but are not limited to Kenya, Liberia, Ghana, Namibia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, South Africa, and Sierra Leone.
  • The common hippos commonly inhabit swamps, rivers, streams, and shallow lakes.
  • The waters must be deep enough (about 2 meters deep) to allow the hippo to submerge its entire body.
  • The common hippos can also be found in marine environs, shrubland, grassland, and savannah located next to inland wetlands.

What Does Pygmy Hippopotamus Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Artiodactyla Hippopotamidae Hexaprotodon Hexaprotodon liberiensis

What do pygmy hippos eat?

The pygmy hippo consumes herbivorous diet. Its palate includes leaves, ferns, fruits, and roots found next to rivers and streams.

  • At first glance, one can note that the pygmy hippopotamus looks like the smaller version of its relative, the common hippopotamus.
  • When compared to the common hippo, pygmy hippos have a rounder head, long neck, less webbed feet, longer legs, and its eyes are not located on the top of its head like its cousin.
  • Pygmy hippos grow to a length of between 1.5 and 1.75 meters and a weight of between 160 and 270 kg.
  • Pygmy hippo species is commonly found in Liberia. Smaller distribution is notable in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
  • Unfortunately, the pygmy hippo population has been declining due to activities such as hunting, human settlement, logging and farming.
  • The pygmy forest inhabits savannah, and interior forests next to swamps, rivers, marshes, bogs, and streams.

How Do Hippos Hunt?

How do hippos hunt?

There are reported incidences where hippos have practiced carnivory and cannibalism. Researchers have implied that in times of hardship (drought), they have used their territorial and aggressive natures to hunt for prey.

When Do Hippos Eat?

Hippos are mostly nocturnal animals.

When do hippos eat?

  • They spend most of the daylight hours resting in water pools only to leave at dark to feed.
  • Because of their high appetite, hippos consume about 1 to 1.5% of their body weight in food every day (this is about 40 kg of grass).

How Often Do Hippos Eat?

Generally, hippos have a huge appetite, and they can travel far and wide on a given night to feed to their fill.

  • Until they achieve their daily food intake target, they will continue to feed as much and as often as they can.
  • In the event of scarcity, hippos feed less frequently. Their stored food can last them up to 3 weeks without eating.

What Eats Hippos?

Younger hippos that have strayed from their mothers are vulnerable to predation.

What eats hippos? Lions

  • Examples of organisms that consume young hippopotami include lions, crocodiles, and hyenas.
  • Adult hippos have no other natural enemy aside from humans who hunt them for their meat.

Where Do Hippos Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Hippos are essential to the animal food chain.

Hippo animal food chain

  • They are predated upon by other organisms, thus providing a good source of nutrition to such creatures.
  • Hippos also help sustain other ecosystems.

Hippos’ fecal matter which is rich in silicon helps sustain the aquatic ecosystem by promoting the growth of diatoms, which form the base of the aquatic ecosystem and further promotes the thriving of fish.

Cite this article as: "What Do Hippos Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, March 4, 2019, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-hippos-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Facts About Hippos | Live Science”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “Hippo Facts” – Duke University. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “Hippopotamus | African Wildlife Foundation”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “Rare Picture: Hippo Seen Eating Hippo—and More Cannibals”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Hippopotamus amphibius: INFORMATION”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “Pygmy Hippopotamus | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “Pygmy Hippopotamus | Choeropsis liberiensis”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.
  • “The Hippopotamus: What this animal is doing for Africa’s Lake Victoria and why it’s important – Waterkeeper Alliance”. Accessed October 04, 2019. Link.

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