Hippo Comes To the River to Show the Crocodiles Who the Real Boss Is

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Written by Hannah Crawford

Updated: November 9, 2023

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A Hippo meets a Crocodile in the Zambezi River
© Patrick Messier/Shutterstock.com

While the lion may be the king of the jungle in the wide open plains of Africa, the boss is a different story. Whether you are a fierce lion, aggressive crocodile, or stealthy cheetah, they all have one thing in common. If the hippo boss says, “Move along,” they move along. We see this happening with not one, not two, but five crocodiles! 

Hippopotamus Sighting in Kenya

The above YouTube video takes us to Kenya, Africa. Within Kenya, we are at the Maasai Mara, which is a National Reserve. This video was uploaded by the YouTube page Maasai Sightings. This channel is a leading resource for wildlife in Africa. They share their description of what happened in this video below. 

“Although crocodiles are large, powerful creatures, they cannot kill a fully-grown hippo. Hippos are large, round animals that are much taller than crocodiles with far more deadlier teeth. The only place they would be vulnerable to attack is their legs.” 

The Boss of Africa

At the start of this video, we see a small group of crocodiles that are feeding on an animal that they have killed. Most likely, this animal was striving to either cross this river and got caught, or it was drinking water, and the crocodiles rushed in and grabbed the prey down. 

It’s not long before the boss, the hippopotamus, comes strutting up to them. We see the hippo quietly nudging them along. He doesn’t need to be aggressive by any means. Because this boss has gained the respect, or rather fear, of these crocodiles who know he is too big to mess with. 

At about 39 seconds into the video, we see they offer some research behind the hippo and crocodile. “The hippo is more dangerous than the croc and has more deadly teeth. Due to their massive size and aggressive nature, crocodiles find it hard to attack a hippo.” 

Is It Normal Behavior For Crocodiles and Hippos to Fight?

Saltwater crocodile on shore

Saltwater crocodiles are not as aggressive as hippos.

©Firepac/Shutterstock.com

Crocodiles and hippos share the same habitat, so it is possible they might fight over various reasons, however, it isn’t common.

Additionally, the hippopotamus is known for its aggressive nature and holds the title of being the deadliest large land mammal on Earth. In Africa, it’s estimated that hippo attacks claim the lives of approximately 500 people each year.

Their danger doesn’t solely stem from their imposing size and weight, but also from their remarkably sharp teeth.

Furthermore, it’s a fact that crocodile attacks on humans can and do occur, but these incidents remain relatively rare. There are about 1,000 crocodile attacks on humans annually, leading to around 200 fatalities. Hippos are notably more aggressive than crocodiles. While crocodiles can pose a threat, they do not attack humans as often as hippos.

Why Do Hippos Open Their Mouths So Wide?

A territorial Hippo bull makes a huge gaping yawn as a warning to other males to keep out of his territory. They will also make this threat gesture to humans on the riverbank.

Hippos have 36 teeth.

©Nick Greaves/Shutterstock.com

Bosses of Africa are threatening to other animals by size alone. Weighing between 2,200-9,900 pounds and reaching up to 16+ feet is enough to make any animal second guess challenging them. However, every once in a while, we see a predator, typically an apex predator like a crocodile or lion, that wishes to try and step up. And when that happens, we see hippos open their mouths very wide. 

According to the Kruger Park, hippo “bulls frequently open their mouths wide as a show of dominance. Whether intentionally or not this shows off their weaponry.” 


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About the Author

Hannah Crawford is a writer at A-Z Animals where she focuses on reptiles, mammals, and locations in Africa. Hannah has been researching and writing about animals and various countries for over eight years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Communication\Performance Studies from Pensacola Christian College, which she earned in 2015. Hannah is a resident in Florida, and enjoys theatre, poetry, and growing her fish tank.

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