Hippopotamuses and crocodiles are renowned for being two of the most dangerous creatures in all of Africa; both are arguably more dangerous than the lion. These creatures stalk the precious waters throughout sub-Saharan Africa, making every animal think twice before leaning down for a drink. So, it’s only fair to ask what would happen in a hippo vs crocodile fight.
By creating a meaningful comparison of these two animals, we can determine which of them has the greatest advantages to help them in their fight against the other.
Comparing a Hippo and a Crocodile
|Size||Weight: 3,000lbs – 4,000lbs |
Length: 10.5ft 16.5 ft.
Height: 4ft – 5.5ft at the shoulder
Length: 10ft – 20ft
|Speed and Movement Type||– Top speed of 20 mph- 30mph |
– 5 mph in the water
|– 22 mph on land |
– Very fast crawling motion
– 15mph in water propelled by its tail
|Bite Power and Teeth||1,800 PSI bite power |
-36 sharp teeth
– Incisors up to 1.2ft, canines up to 1.5ft.
|3,700PSI bite power |
– 4-inch teeth
– 66 teeth
|Senses||– Great sense of smell |
– Good eyesight, especially underwater due to a clear membrane
– Can hear well on land and in water
|– Great nocturnal vision and underwater vision |
– Pressure receptors help crocodiles identify changes around them
|Defenses||– Thick skin |
– Fierce behaviors
– Size and weight
|– Tough skin |
– Ability to travel on land and water
|Offensive Capabilities||– Incredible biting power |
– Charging with weight
|– Incredibly powerful bite |
– Death roll can instantly remove large chunks of flesh.
|Predatory Behavior||– Ambush hunter that only leaves head above water and then attacks||– Ambush predators that wait in the water for prey to approach.|
The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Hippo and a Crocodile
What do we mean by a meaningful comparison? Well, we can’t just use random facts about the hippo and crocodile and say which one has the best chance of survival in a fight. Instead, we need to gather and compare key factors between the two creatures.
To that end, we have compiled a list of important physical features and behaviors that would impact the way the two animals battle. By comparing each, we’ll see which animal has the most advantages and thus the best chance to win the battle.
Physical Features of a Hippo and a Crocodile
The physical traits of a creature have a lot to do with its success as a fighter. So, when a hippo and a crocodile meet, we have to know several dimensions of their physical strengths and capabilities to determine which one has an edge.
We are going to look at five areas of concern and see which creature is better suited to fight than the other.
Hippo vs Crocodile: Size
Crocodiles are very large reptiles, weighing up to 2,000 lbs and growing up to 20ft long. Although they are longer than hippos, they’re smaller than them overall. Hippos can weigh beyond 4,000 lbs, grow up to 16ft long, and stand 5ft tall. They’re massive compared to the crocodile!
Hippos are larger than crocodiles and have a size advantage.
Hippo vs Crocodile: Speed and Movement
Crocodiles can move upwards of 22mph on land and 15mph in water; they’re very swift when they need to be, but they can’t maintain that pace for long. Hippos can reach 30mph in short bursts, but they can only move about 5mph in the water.
We’re going to split the difference and call this a tie since hippos are faster on land, but crocodiles are faster on water.
Hippo vs Crocodile: Bite Power and Teeth
Both hippos and crocodiles use their bites to kill their foes. Hippos have a very powerful bite at 1,800PSI. Their teeth are long and sharp, measuring up to 1.5ft. Crocodiles have the most powerful bite measured of any terrestrial creature, smashing down on enemies at 3,700PSI with 4-inch teeth.
Crocodiles win in terms of bite power, but their teeth just don’t measure up. Bite power and teeth are a tie.
Hippo vs Crocodile: Senses
Crocodiles have very good vision underwater which helps them hunt in the murky lakes and rivers of their homeland. They also can sense changes in pressure very well, so they are highly aware of movement around them. They can respond quickly and violently to animals that enter their area.
Hippos have a great sense of smell, and good eyesight on land and in water, and they can hear both on land and in water.
Hippos have better senses overall, and they have the brainpower to process their senses. They have an advantage in this area.
Hippo vs Crocodile: Physical Defenses
Crocodiles have many great physical defenses that keep them alive in bouts. Their skin is tough, they can move in and out of the water with haste, and their threat display makes many creatures back off before a fight starts.
Hippos also have a scary threat display complete with fake charges and teeth bearing. They also have very thick, strong skin, a massive body, and more speed than a body that size should have.
All in all, hippos have a more well-rounded set of physical defenses compared with a crocodile.
Combat Skills of a Hippo and a Crocodile
Crocodiles primarily fight by ambushing prey and then digging into them with their powerful bite, tearing off large chunks of flesh. Their ability to hide beneath the water and drag prey into the depths is highly effective at helping them earn meals.
Hippos are mostly herbivorous, but they will occasionally indulge in meat to round out their diet. They are highly aggressive and territorial, so they can lunge from bodies of water just as quickly as a crocodile, but they do not have the predatory instincts to hunt animals.
Their fighting skills are brutal and utilitarian, combining stomps, thrashing bites, and tosses into a deadly attack that only ends with them or their enemy dead.
Both animals are highly effective at killing and equally inclined to attack encroachers. We’ll call combat skills a tie.
What Are the Key Differences Between a Hippo and a Crocodile?
Hippos are heavier, taller, and shorter than crocodiles. Hippos can weigh 4,000 lbs, double the weight of the largest crocodile while standing far taller than a crocodile at 5.5ft.
Crocodiles are reptiles and hippos are mammals. Both creatures live in Africa, but crocodiles are carnivorous while hippos are omnivorous. Crocodiles are instinctual ambush predators, but hippos are usually docile toward others unless they’re feeling territorial.
These are the most significant differences between the two animals.
Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Hippo and a Crocodile?
A hippo would win a fight against a crocodile. Although crocodiles are large, powerful creatures, they cannot kill a fully-grown hippo.
Hippos are large, round animals that are much taller than crocodiles. The only place they would be vulnerable to attack is their legs. A crocodile could certainly bite a hippo’s leg, but there is too much weight above it to perform a death roll. Meanwhile, the hippo could drop 4,000 lbs of weight onto its enemy or simply find the offending crocodile on the ground and bite it.
Hippos are powerful enough to bite and lift a crocodile straight off the ground. A hippo would bite, lift, bite again, drop, stomp, and bite the crocodile until it was dead. While a crocodile might successfully ambush a hippo in the water, the fight still favors the latter.
Could Another Animal Take Down a Hippo?
If a hippo could take down a deadly crocodile by throwing its weight around – how would it do against an animal that is even heavier – like an elephant? Hippos can weigh up to 4,000 pounds but an adult elephant can weigh up to 12,000 pounds. We are talking about the biggest land animal on earth!
The size advantage obviously goes to the elephant – but what about bite force? Hippos have a bite force that exceeds 1,800 PSI and has a big mouth full of teeth that are a foot long. We are talking about a bite powerful enough to chomp a crocodile in half! Looks like the hippo wins the bite contest.
Both animals are used to all of the advantages that being the biggest animal around can bring. Other animals are intimidated by their superior size and strength and choose to just stay out of their way. Hippos and elephants are covered in a thick hide for another layer of protection. It’s no wonder that they have no natural predators!
In a fight between a hippo and an elephant – assuming both are adults – the elephant is just too big to lose. Even if the hippo landed a massive bite – the pachyderm would just stomp the hippo’s head into a pile of mush. The hippo would likely also be speared with a 6 ft long tusk for good measure. Thankfully, these two land giants coexist peacefully in the real world!
More from A-Z Animals
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.