Hippo Vs Rhino: All Differences Explained

Both these very large mammals live in Africa and are both seen together in documentaries and movies – but some people aren’t sure which is which or whether they are related. They are both big and grey and are usually seen chasing cars on online videos – but what makes them so different?

5 Ways To Tell Hippos And Rhinos Apart:

1: Size Of The Mouth – Hippos have one of the biggest mouths in the animal kingdom – you won’t notice a Rhinos

2: Giant Horn – Rhinos almost always have at least one giant pointed horn on the end of their nose – Hippos don’t have horns

3: Location – If you see one in Asia of South-East Asia – it can only be a Rhino – Hippos only live in Africa

4: Habitat – Hippos are nearly always found on or next to water during the day – Rhinos feed out on the Savanna

5: Numbers – Rhino are generally solitary – whereas Hippos can sit around in groups of up to 200 

Some of these features are so obvious that you shouldn’t have trouble telling them apart. For example, if you see a horn (Rhino) or a huge wide yawn (hippo), you can’t go wrong – but let’s look in a bit more detail on each of those to be sure.

1: Hippos And Rhinos Have Very Different Mouths

Hippos have evolved to be very aggressive – and male hippos fight with their giant teeth. These teeth can be over 60cm (2ft) long – and razor-sharp. Their incredibly wide yawn is a threat to show these teeth off. Rhinos don’t do this.

Rhinos can be aggressive to each other (especially the Black Rhino), but their mouths are small. Right at the front of their giant heads, they have either a flat mouth (White Rhino) or a pointed mouth (Black, Indian, Sumatran & Javan). 

2: Rhinos Have A Giant Horn (or two)

Instead of fighting with their teeth – rhinos have grown giant horns. There are five Rhino species – and all of them have a prominent horn right at the tip of their noses. The Greater One-horned (Indian) and Lesser One-horned (Javan) only have one – and it can be up to 60cm (2ft) long in adults. However, the White Rhino can have a horn over 1.5m (5ft) long. 

Black, White and Sumatran rhinos also have a smaller second horn behind the first one. Hippos never have horns.

3: Hippos Only Live In Africa: Rhinos Are In Asia Too

There are two species of hippo alive today – the common hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the Pygmy Hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) – both of which are only found in Africa. Black and White rhinos are found only in Africa, but the Indian Rhino is found across Asia, and the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are found only in South-East Asia. No hippos there.

4: Hippos And Rhinos Live In Different Habitats

In Africa – hippos and rhinos live in very different places. Hippos are nearly always found in or very close to the water – sometimes only their noses are sticking out the surface of a giant lake. They love being submerged – sometimes for hours on end. They don’t move a lot – and they certainly don’t feed during the day.

Rhinos in the same countries tend to stick to dry land. Eating grass and shrubs all day long – they are always seen on dry land during the day. They will go and wallow in muddy puddles to coat themselves in insect and sun repelling mud – but they don’t go for a swim. Their relatives in Asia do, though – and these three rhinos spend a lot of time in the water.

5: Hippos And Rhinos Live In Different Ways

Rhinos are mainly solitary – apart from the White Rhino, who sometimes live in tiny groups. They usually are only seen with mom and calf in most of their range. Hippos live with as many other hippos as can fit in the water. As long as there is enough food growing nearby, up to 200 hippos live in the same lake.

Questions and answers

Who Would Win In A Fight – A Hippo Or A Rhino?

If it were in or anywhere near the water – a hippo would surely win. Even though these two giant animals are so closely matched in size and strength – the hippos are much more aggressive. Hippos are also used to fighting giants – so they are already one-up. Rhino tends to run away from anything scary anyway – only the most fussy would pick a fight with a hippo.

Which Is The Most Dangerous?

It is a well-known fact that hippos are among the most dangerous animals on the planet for humans. They are responsible for around 500 deaths a year – that is more than bears and sharks added together. They can run fast too – and are territorial. You can’t outrun a hippo. You can’t outrun a rhino either – but they are much less likely to chase you in the first place. 

Which Is Bigger – A Hippo Or A Rhino?

Overall – the rhinos are bigger – because, well, the Pygmy Hippo is so much smaller. The White Rhino is the largest Rhino standing at nearly 2m (6ft) tall at the shoulder and weighing in at 3 tonnes. The Common Hippo can be up to 1.6m (5ft 2in) at the shoulder – but still over 5m (16ft) long. 

Can Hippos And Rhinos Mate?

Answer: No – they are different species. Rhinos are related to tapirs and horses, and hippos are related to cows and whales.

Are Hippos And Rhinos Vegetarians?

Answer: Yes, both species are plant-eating mammals, choosing to eat grasses, plant material, and fruits where possible.

Are Hippos And Rhinos Endangered?

Answer: Both species have some protection in place – with the Javan Rhino being one of the most scarce – living in only one place on Earth. All five rhinos and both hippos are under threat from poaching and habitat loss.