Indifferent Elephant Parts a Sea of Hippos Like He’s Moses

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Written by Maxwell Martinson

Updated: November 10, 2023

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elephant
© Pooja Prasanth/Shutterstock.com

Key Points:

  • Hippos and elephants get along in the wild.
  • Hippos know that elephants are too strong to take down.
  • This article covers a video where hippos part in a river to make room for an elephant to cross.

If you could pick your battles with wild animals, you’d avoid elephants and hippos like the plague. Alongside lions, mosquitos, and scorpions, hippos and elephants are among the species most deadly to humans.

Even tactical predators like lions and hyenas have an exceedingly difficult time hunting down these two species of lumbering ungulates.

We wouldn’t mess with these animals in a million years, but what happens when an elephant puts itself in front of dozens of hippos?

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Who’s Stronger? Elephant vs Hippo

Elephant vs hippo
An elephant would win a fight against a hippo due to its large size.

We’ve got an in-depth analysis of whether an elephant or a hippo would win in a fight, although the word ‘fight’ suggests they’d square up with boxing gloves. It might be more of a brawl or a tussle than a fight, but that’s beside the point.

The elephant is monstrous, ranking as the largest land mammal in the world. Hippos, on the other hand, are notoriously ornery and come equipped with massive teeth longer and more forceful than those of a saber-toothed tiger.

In most cases, the elephant would stomp away victoriously because of its agility and size advantage. Many hippos could put up a good fight, however. In the video below, there are dozens of hippos taking mud baths in their natural environment.

hippo charging towards camera with mouth open

A hippo’s jaw has an 1800 PSI bite force.

©PhotocechCZ/Shutterstock.com

If all of them were to join forces, it would be difficult for the elephant to cross. This elephant was determined to get to the other side, though. He stands tall, makes himself known with a puff or two of water, presents his majestic ears like the wings of a massive butterfly, and steps forward.

After a moment, the hippos take notice. They move out of the way out of some kind of respect for the elephant. The energy used to get out of the way is less of an inconvenience than the rage of a frustrated elephant, apparently.

In any case, it’s a beautiful thing to see this elephant strut his way through the path of hippos who wisely deferred to him.

Where Do Elephants And Hippos Live?

elephant

The elephant is monstrous, ranking as the largest land

mammal

in the world.

©JohnEGoodwin/Shutterstock.com

Elephants and hippos are both native to Africa.

Elephants can be found in a variety of habitats, including savannas, forests, and deserts, but are most commonly found in grasslands and forests. They are distributed across 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in small numbers in India and Sri Lanka.

Hippos, on the other hand, are primarily found in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. They are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in countries such as Angola, Zambia, and Namibia. They can also be found in smaller numbers in countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

Both elephants and hippos are considered vulnerable or endangered species due to habitat loss and hunting.

How Long Do Elephants And Hippos Live?

Elephants and hippos are both long-lived animals, but their lifespan can vary depending on the species and environment.

In the wild, the average lifespan of an African elephant is around 60 to 70 years. However, they can live up to 80 years in some cases. Asian elephants, on the other hand, have a slightly shorter lifespan, usually living between 40 to 50 years in the wild.

Hippos, also have a relatively long lifespan, they can live up to 40-50 years in the wild, although some individuals can live up to 55-60 years.

It’s worth noting that lifespan in captivity is often shorter than in the wild for both species, due to factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of space.

Hippos are omnivores who prefer plants. When land and food are hard to come by, these animals might challenge one another.

©Hjalmar Gislason from Reykjavik, Iceland / CC BY 2.0 – License

Do Elephants and Hippos Compete?

The fact that these hippos parted like the Red Sea may or may not be surprising to you. The elephant is a herbivore, and hippos are omnivorous creatures that prefer plants to meat.

One is not likely to try and eat the other! That said, two herbivorous land mammals have the potential to compete for food, and that’s enough to spark dangerous encounters. Land and food sources are sometimes hard to come by, so one of these animals might challenge the other if they’re encroaching on territory.

Hippos and elephants are known to spit occasionally, although it’s not extremely common for them to attack one another. At the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk in most cases.

So, they defer to each other in a lot of instances and produce the amazing harmony we see in the video below.

Is it Normal for Elephants to Socialize with Hippos?

An isolated elephant amongst a pod of hippopotamus in Erindi National Park, Namibia, Southern Africa

©paula french/Shutterstock.com

Elephants and hippos both reside in Africa and quite often are found in the same habitats. They tend to live near one another in relative peace in the real world. While they have fought, it is not a common occurrence and they generally co-exist peacefully, preferring to avoid each other. Hippos will make room for elephants to avoid conflict because hippos sense that elephants are simply too strong and massive to fight or take down.


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About the Author

Hi! I'm Max and I'm a writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I've been freelancing for more than five years and love the freedom and variety that this profession offers. Animals are also a big part of my life, and a lot of my time is dedicated to playing with my cat, Herbie.

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