Alligator vs Hippo: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: May 12, 2022
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Despite being necessary for life, bodies of water can also contain dangers. The same rivers and lakes that we look to for freshwater can hold deadly predators waiting to spring. Among the semi-aquatic animals that pose a threat to humans and other creatures by the water are alligators and hippos. Although they don’t share a range, we’re going to imagine that an alligator vs hippo fight was possible and show you which of these powerful creatures would win.

Comparing an Alligator and a Hippo

Hippos have a massive size that gives them an edge.


SizeWeight: 400lbs to 800lbs (sometimes more)
Height: 1ft – 2ft off the ground
Length: 8.2 feet to 15 feet long
Weight: 2,200lbs – 9,900lbs
Length: 6.5ft-16.5ft.
Height: 4ft – 5.5ft at shoulder
Speed and Movement Type– 30 mph over short distances on land
– Locomotion includes swimming and scampering on the ground
– Top speed of 20 mph- 30mph
– 5 mph in the water
Defenses– Camouflage
– Thick skin
– Limited snake venom resistance
– Speed
– Hissing threat display
– Thick skin
– Fierce behaviors
– Size and weight
– Surprisingly fast on land and in the water
Offensive Capabilities2,980 PSI bite power
– Roughly 80 teeth
– Teeth roughly 2” in length
– Death roll can instantly amputate
– Repeated chomping can puncture organs while holding prey in place
– Incredible biting power
– Charging with weight
1,800 PSI bite power
– 36 sharp teeth
– Incisors up to 1.2ft, canines up to 1.5ft.
Predatory Behavior– Ambush prey by keeping eyes and nostrils above water
– Typically attacks by ambushing from the water
– Clamp onto enemies and use a death roll
– Ambush hunter that only leaves head above water and then attacks

What Are Key Differences Between an Alligator and a Hippo?

hippo charging towards camera with mouth open
A hippo’s jaw has a 1800 PSI bite force.


The greatest differences between alligators and hippos are their size and morphology. Alligators are large reptiles with long, U-shaped snouts, scaly skin, and long tails that measure up to 15ft long and weigh up to 800lbs, but hippos are massive mammals with gray-brown skin, a pinkish hue, immense heads, and stout legs that weigh about 9,900lbs and grow 16ft long.

These differences help give us a baseline for comparison between the two animals. However, we need more data to effectively compare these animals and decide which one would win a battle.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between an Alligator and a Hippo?

Alligator in Swamp
Alligators can quickly attack prey from the water.

©Thierry Eidenweil/

The most important factors in an alligator vs hippo fight will include size, offensive prowess, and predatory behavior. By defining these qualities and others relative to each creature, we can easily determine which animal has the advantage in the fight. Then, we can use that data to inform our final decision of who is going to win the battle.

Alligator vs Hippo: Size

Alligators are large reptiles that are capable of growing up to 800lbs on average while measuring 15ft long and standing roughly 2ft off the ground. However, many atypical cases of the largest alligators weighing over 1,000lbs have been recorded.

Hippos absolutely dwarf alligators, though. They stand about 5.5ft at the shoulder, weigh up to 9,900lbs, and can grow 9ft-16ft long without an excessively long tail. The largest hippo ever recorded weighed 9,900lbs and measured over 16ft long.

Hippos have a massive size advantage.

Alligator vs Hippo: Speed and Movement

Hippos are faster than their large bodies suggest, running at a speed of between 20 and 30mph on land and swimming at 5 mph in the water. Alligators can move at 30 mph over very short distances, but they can typically move at 2-9 mph on land and swim at 20 mph.

Hippos can maintain a higher speed for longer on land, but they are slower in the water.  

Alligator vs Hippo: Defenses

Alligators have great camouflage to help them blend in beneath the waterline and in tall vegetation. Also, alligator skin is tough to pierce, and they have the power to move from land to water with ease. They even reportedly have some resistance to snake venom.

Hippos also have very thick skin, and their sheer size makes most predators stay away. These animals are dangerous on land and in the water, and they kill about 500 humans every year.  Moreover, they’re surprisingly good at hiding in the water.

Both animals have very good defenses in their manner.

Alligator vs Hippo: Offensive Capabilities

Both hippos and alligators rely on their powerful bites to kill other animals. Hippos have a very strong bite that measures 1,800 PSI, weaker than an alligator. However, they have teeth that measure over 1ft long, very sharp teeth overall, and the ability to charge and trample other animals, too.

Alligators are famous for their death roll, where they bite and roll to dismember their foes and disorient them in water. Their 80 teeth are conical in shape, perfect for grabbing and biting an animal while dragging it into the water.

Hippos have more ways of attacking animals, and they are certainly stronger, so they have the advantage.

Alligator vs Hippo: Predatory Behavior

Hippos are rarely predators, but they are still omnivores. They will often wait at the waterside and attack animals that come close to them. Sometimes, they will even finish off prey that had escaped from other predators like lions.

Alligators also prefer to wait in water or dense vegetation. In the water, they will sit with just their eyes and nostrils above the water. When prey comes close, they lunge and grab it before dragging it into the depths.

Alligators are more accomplished hunters than hippos, so they have the advantage.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between an Alligator and a Hippo?

World's Scariest Animal: Hippopotamuses
Hippos are wildly aggressive and very powerful creatures.

©Gaston Piccinetti/

A hippo would win a fight against an alligator. Simply put, alligators don’t have the toolkit to bring down and kill something as large as a hippo. Even if the average alligator ambushed a hippo and tried to perform a death roll, it’s not going to get much for its effort. The hippo is too thickly built and heavy.

An alligator can’t pull 9,900lbs of hippo into the water, and it certainly can’t bite the hippo’s head or neck without a lot of work and luck. Meanwhile, a single bite from the hippo could puncture an organ and instantly kill the alligator.

The alligator doesn’t have much of an advantage in the water because hippos are perfectly comfortable in aquatic settings. On land, the hippo can bite the gator to death or stomp it to death. Either method would suit this massive creature just fine. Any way we look at this fight, the hippo wins.

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 . When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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