Crocodiles rarely feed on hippos, but it is possible in some situations. In the wild, crocodiles only eat hippos that have already died, or if the hippo is a baby that strayed away from its group.
Crocodiles will never attack an adult hippo. They are afraid of hippos and would steer clear of them. While crocodiles are powerful predators, hippos are bigger and have the means to protect themselves from crocs.
Can a Crocodile Kill a Hippo?
A crocodile cannot kill a hippo. A hippopotamus is huge and will not easily fit in a crocodile’s mouth. It means that the crocodile cannot clamp its jaws around a hippo. Adult hippos can weigh up to 9,900lbs (4,400kg) and their skin is two inches (5cm) thick, giving them excellent protection against crocodiles.
Since hippos are much taller than crocodiles, the croc will have a hard time attacking. The only vulnerable part of the hippo is the leg. So, in theory, a crocodile can bite a hippo’s legs and then do the rollover.
But then, there is a problem. A hippo is powerful. It would take a significant force for the crocodile to perform a death roll. There is too much weight on the hippo’s feet that a death roll is simply ineffective.
Hippos also have a powerful bite. An adult hippo can bite a crocodile and lift it off the ground. Add to this the hippo’s weight, and the crocodile is in serious trouble. An adult hippo can weigh up to 9,900 pounds—it could stomp on a crocodile to kill it.
Read More: Can a Crocodile Smell Blood?
Why is a Crocodile Afraid of a Hippo?
Crocodiles may be top predators, but they also feel fear. Crocodiles are afraid of adult hippos only. Apart from the hippo’s size, it is also aggressive.
Despite the hippo’s size, it can run more than 30 kilometers per hour, and swim eight kilometers an hour in the water—they are mobile, and it is important for protecting itself from the crocodile.
Hippos are heavy—some can weigh up to 4,500 kilograms. While this may look tasty to a croc, it also means trouble. Like elephants, the hippo can easily pounce on a croc. Even if the crocodile has thick scales and bony armor, nothing beats gravity—it can still get crushed by the hippo’s weight.
Crocodiles also know that hippos are stronger than them. All it takes for a hippo to kill a croc is to sit on it. Hippos can kill a croc with several bites and then fling them across like ragdolls.
Although the crocodile has powerful jaws, the hippo has thick skin—it does not easily rip off. The hippo’s body is also rounded, and this shape makes it impossible for the crocodile to grab a bite.
Knowing all this, the crocodile will steer clear of an adult hippopotamus. However, there may be some occasions where a juvenile crocodile wanders into a pool of hippos. And if this happens, the croc is in serious trouble.
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Do Hippos Eat Crocodiles?
No, hippos do not eat crocodiles. Hippos kill crocodiles if the croc is a threat, but hippos mainly feed on grass. Hippos are not exclusively herbivores. Although they eat grass most of their lives, they also eat meat from time to time.
Hippos are not carnivores. They do not eat the crocodile they kill. Sometimes, it is just a sport. But then, some hippos can get hungry and eat meat.
There is a rare photo from National Geographic showing a hippo eating another hippo, proving that they can resort to cannibalization in dire circumstances.
It was in 2014 when this incident was first documented. It happened in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The hippo victim was partially submerged.
Read More: Can Crocodiles Eat Humans?
Hippos VS Crocodiles
Although hippos and crocodiles sometimes share a habitat, the similarities end there. Hippos are large aquatic herbivorous mammals, whereas crocodiles are apex predator reptiles.
Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between these two animals…
|Diet||Mostly Herbivorous||Mostly Carnivorous|
|Weight||Up to 2,000 lbs (900kg)||Up to 9,900lbs (4,400kg)|
|Size||Up to 20 feet long||Up to 16 feet long, 5 feet high|
|Movement||Fast on land, slow in water||Fast in water, clumsy on land|
|Bite Force||1800 PSI||3700 PSI|
While crocodiles are large animals that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, hippos are much larger. They can reach weights of up to 9,900 pounds (4,400kg) and grow up to 16 feet long. Hippos stand up to five feet tall.
Speed and Movement
Hippos can run at 30 miles per hour, while crocs can run about 22 miles per hour. The hippo has long feet, which they can use to run like many quadrupeds do. Crocodiles, on the other hand, have awkward limbs.
While both animals can only sustain these speeds in short bursts, the hippo has better mobility than the crocs on land. In water, the crocodile has an advantage because it has a long and powerful tail that helps it swim, although they can’t breathe underwater.
Hippos and crocodiles can both deliver strong bites. Hippos can generate 1,800 PSI of force, and they have long and sharp teeth. Their teeth can get long as 1.5 feet.
Crocodiles are also powerful—they can deliver up to 3,700 PSI of force, and they have teeth as long as four inches.
Although crocodiles have a more powerful bite, their teeth are short. The hippo may not have as much bite power, but it is still powerful. And with teeth more than one foot long, it is like a dagger or sword that would penetrate any thick skin.
There is one advantage that the hippo has that the crocodile does not have. The hippo can open its mouth much wider, up to 180 degrees.
Because of this, it can swallow or bite bigger things than what a crocodile could. What this means is that the hippo can bite the entire torso of a crocodile!
Crocodiles eat hippos, but only the juveniles. Crocodiles do not have the power to attack adult hippos because adult hippos are bigger and stronger. They can protect themselves and easily squish the crocodile.
In the wild, both have respect for each other. However, some crocodiles make the mistake of wandering in a pool of hippos. If this happens, the crocodile is likely to die.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.