What are Hippos Afraid of? (Full List and More)

Despite being herbivores, adults Hippos have very few predators due to their size and defenses, though lions occasionally take their young.

They are one of the most dangerous animals that you can encounter in the water.

They have kill rates that rival all other big animal species combined, and they have no fear on land either. Females can fend for themselves while males will battle it out to establish dominance within their group.

Despite living in groups of up to 40 hippos, they can be very territorial and aggressive towards other hippos in their area. Males often fight each other for dominance of the group, and the victor takes the female(s) to mate with.

Their primary predators are Nile crocodiles, who prey primarily on young hippos but take adults when possible. They are also vulnerable to lions and occasionally leopards when they come to shore to cool off.

There is nothing scientifically documented that says hippos are afraid of anything, but some sources say crocodiles and sharks are their main fear. 

Crocodiles sometimes prey on young and adult hippos and sharks because we don’t know much about them. Another possibility is that hippopotami often have a nasty bite, and sharks have been known to bite back.

Some people say hippos are afraid of humans because they will sometimes run from them at the zoo or river, but I think that’s just a misinterpretation of their behavior.

Since hippopotami are very territorial, they will chase other herbivores away from their food source or for fun.

When humans get too close, they will charge at them to scare them away from their food/territory because the hippo knows it can win if it comes down to a face-off.

What animals can kill a hippo?

A hippo can be killed by lions, crocodiles (especially the Nile Crocodile and American Crocodile), and their own kind.

Hippos do not often kill one another in the wild; it happens more frequently in captivity, where territorial disputes arise.

The hippopotamus is a semi-aquatic mammal and spends most of its time in rivers and lakes, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of 5 to 30 females and young.

1) Lions.


Not just individuals of one species can kill a hippo; lions can also do it! The lion is a predator that preys on hippopotamus in the wild.

Lions sometimes confront hippos head-on in territorial disputes, but this usually results in the death of one party.

When hunting young hippos, lions will work together when approaching from opposite banks, and when they are successful, they will share their prey. In some cases, hippos have been known to kill lions without any eating.

2) Nile crocodiles.

Nile crocodiles

Nile crocodiles and American crocodiles also eat hippopotamus (it is thought that they can do more damage than lions), but this usually affects young specimens. 

Nile Crocodiles are the most infamous crocodiles for killing a hippo, especially since it has happened before in the wild.

3) Hippopotamus.


However, the hippopotamus is not just killed by other species; it can also kill itself or others of its kind. 

When males battle each other for females, they use their tusks to cause deep gashes in their opponents’ sides and backs.

The loser may be badly wounded but remain in a usual territory and maimed or not; he’ll get the chance to mate with some of the females.

The female hippopotamus is more likely to kill a male that courts her for too long, and she will do it violently by charging him with her head and then crashing his body with her enormous and heavy feet.

4) Hyenas.


Hyenas are also known to kill hippos when they hunt young specimens in groups. A single hyena attacked and killed an adult female from behind while it drank from a pool.

As for wild dogs, both males and females will join forces when hunting for this big prey animal.

Are elephants and hippos natural enemies?

Despite popular belief, elephants are not natural enemies of hippos. However, both animals’ habitats often overlap, providing opportunities for conflict.

The most common way these two very different animals encounter each other is when an elephant herd approaches a water hole.

Because hippos are territorial, they are likely to attack anything that gets too close to them, including elephants. If the elephant is too close to comfort its potential prey, the hippo will cause the elephant serious harm.

In the video below, a pack of elephants is forced to leave a water hole by two angry hippos.

These animals contact the second way when a mother elephant needs to cross a river, and young calves cannot swim behind her. In this situation, it is often the case that the angry hippos will attack the elephants and their calves.

In this case, the mother will not leave them behind and travel away from the water source to find another route, so she is at risk of being attacked by the hippos in the river itself if they are present.

On rare occasions, it has been observed that an adult female elephant chooses to stand her ground and fight a hippo. In such cases, the result is often fatal for either animal as they are both extremely dangerous.

What are hippos weaknesses?

The hippopotamus’ (Hippopotamus amphibious) only real weakness is its inability to come on land. 

This is why they are usually found in shallow waters near the shoreline of lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water.

They are great swimmers and can hold their breath underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time. They also spend a great deal of time in the water to protect themselves from the sun and biting insects.

Hippos have been known to take their young into the water for protection, but they are by no means “water” babies.

If they get stranded, they will die from dehydration or heat stroke. Hippos can run faster than humans on land, but one is still not advised to get in a land vs. water race.

Are hippos bulletproof?

Hippos have thick skin that is around 6 centimeters (2 inches) wide which is not bulletproof. Many bullets can go through their skin and cause fatal injuries to the hippo.

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