Tiger vs. Hippo: Which Powerful Animal Would Win a Fight?

Written by Crystal
Published: April 26, 2023
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Tiger vs. hippo; who would win in a fight?

In this animal match-up, we’ll uncover everything you need to know about tigers and hippos to determine who’d win in a fight. We’ll also take a look at whether or not this battle would happen in real life. Tigers are the biggest cat species, but their size won’t help today. Hippos are much bigger and more deadly.

Does the striped cat stand a chance against an enraged hippo? Read on to discover who the winner is.

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Tiger: What You Need to Know

Tigers pounce on unsuspecting prey
Though tigers rarely attack people, they love to pounce on unsuspecting prey.


Tigers are native to Asia and are found in various habitats. Their stripes help to camouflage in the shadow of the forest or grasslands. These ambush hunters love pouncing on unsuspecting prey and can leap an impressive 18 feet or more.

If tigers shared a habitat with hippos, they’d stay away from hippos. These big cats know what animals to target and what ones to leave alone. For instance, healthy tigers rarely attack humans.

Tigers rarely attack people, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. In the late 19th century, a tigress killed around 200 people in Nepal and another 230 in the Champawat district, North India. The killing spree happened because the tiger had broken teeth. Tigers usually only target people when their injured or sick or other food sources are scarce. They’ll also target people if provoked.

Tiger Teeth vs. Hippo Teeth

Tigers have strong jaws that deliver a bite force of 1,050 PSI. The upper canines of tigers can grow up to 4 inches long, which is big enough for any deer the tiger might be hunting. But, the cat’s 4-inch long teeth are tiny compared to a hippo’s 20-inch long chompers. And even with a powerful bite force, it’ll be tough to penetrate the hippo’s thick skin.

Can a Tiger’s Roar Scare a Hippopotamus?

Could the tiger intimidate the hippo with their roar? Even though they’re big and mighty, tigers don’t have an explosive roar like lions. Tigers have a more guttural and growling roar. The guttural sound carries for almost two miles. Tigers roar to warn other tigers in their territory or to attract potential mates.

Would a tiger’s cute purrs be able to disarm the hippo? Unfortunately not. Big cats like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars can roar, but they can’t purr. Smaller cats like cougars, bobcats, ocelots, lynxes, cheetahs, and house cats can purr but can’t roar.

Do Tigers Eat Hippos?

Would a tiger hunt, kill, and eat a hippo? These two species don’t live in the same part of the world. But if they did, tigers would avoid hippos; they’re too much of a risk. Instead, tigers dine on prey like hog deer, barking deer, nilgai, and wild boar.

Even though they’re great hunters, they’re only sometimes successful in catching their prey. You can see a speedy deer evade a tiger here. These big cats must be patient and use their effective camouflage to stalk their prey. When they miss their target, they move to another area and start again.

What Type of Tiger Is Fighting the Hippo?

What type of tiger is fighting the hippo? You can choose between five surviving subspecies of tigers. The species you’re probably most familiar with, the Bengal tiger, has a reddish-orange coat with black stripes. The Siberian tiger has a paler, golden coat with fewer stripes. The Indochinese tiger has a darker coat with narrower stripes, and the South China tiger has a lighter coat with more distinct stripes. Finally, the Sumatran tiger has the darkest coat of all tiger subspecies, with the stripes being tighter, and there are lots of stripes.

No matter what species it is, the big cat will have difficulty fatally wounding the enormous hippo. Compared to a hippo, tigers are small. Hippos weigh over 9,000 pounds. Tigers are rarely over 700 pounds.

No matter what species it is, a tiger will have difficulty fatally wounding the enormous hippo.

©iStock.com/dito:Aleksejs Loginovs

From Helpless Cubs to Fierce Hunters

Similar to a mother bear, a mother tiger protects her cubs. She’ll fight to the death to save them. In a hypothetical situation where a hippo threatened a tiger’s cubs, the big cat would be fueled with maternal rage. The mother tiger might not be able to kill the hippo, but she could stop it long enough to let her babies escape.

Tiger cubs are born blind and tiny, usually weighing less than a pound. But the helpless cubs don’t stay small for long. What starts as a tiny cub grows into an enormous wild cat. Tigers are the largest cat species, even bigger than fully-grown male lions.

How big do tigers get? Male tigers typically weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, and females weigh between 250 and 350 pounds. The length of an adult tiger can vary from 8.5 to 11 feet, including the tail.

One of the reasons tigers weigh so much has to do with their muscular build. Tigers have extra strong forelimbs and shoulders, enabling them to tackle and overpower large prey easily. Their muscular build also helps them swim across rivers, chase prey long distances, and climb trees. A single tiger can bring down an animal as large as a water buffalo.

Bengal tiger with cubs
A mother tiger would fight to the death to protect her cubs.

©Anuradha Marwah/Shutterstock.com

Hippo: What You Need to Know

Hippos are fascinating creatures widely known for their size and killer attitude. Even though they have a fierce reputation, hippos aren’t carnivorous like tigers. Instead, they love river vegetation, like grass. But don’t let their plant-eating lifestyle fool you. Hippos are insanely dangerous.

With a bite force of 1,800 psi, hippos have the most powerful jaws in the animal kingdom. Their teeth can measure up to 1.5 feet, making them perfect weapons to fend off predators or attack prey. The hippo could easily intimidate the lion by charging and bearing its teeth.

Despite their massive size, hippos are incredibly fast. They can reach a top speed of 30 mph in short bursts on land. However, they are slower in water and can only move about 5 mph. Tigers can swim, but hippos can’t. Instead of swimming, hippos float or walk along the bottom of the river.

Even if a swimming tiger catches up with a hippo, it’ll have a tough time winning the fight. Hippos have thick, strong skin that protects them from predators. Plus, their massive body makes them almost impossible to take down.

Hippos have the most powerful jaws
Hippos have the most powerful jaws in the animal kingdom with a bite force of 1,800 psi.

©John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com

Are Hippos More Aggressive Than Tigers?

Hippos are more aggressive than tigers. Hardly any animals mess with hippos; they can easily tear apart most animals in just one bite. They’re the deadliest large land mammal worldwide and are always ready for a fight. They’re also the third largest land mammal, so they usually win the fights they pick. To claim their territory, hippos scatter their droppings downstream. They also swish their tails and create a slapping noise that echoes their presence.

What Animal Can Defeat a Hippo?

Are there any animals strong enough to kill a hippo? Hyenas, Nile crocodiles, and lions will target hippo calves but rarely full-grown adults. Sometimes, a hippo will fall victim to the lion’s nocturnal hunting strategies, but it takes many big cats to win the fight. The hippo’s immense size, fierce attitude, and defenses make it not worth the trouble. Predators know to leave the hippo alone or face the consequences.

Deadliest Animal in the World: Hippopotamuses
Hippos are the third largest land mammal and have an aggressive nature so most animals will avoid them.


Extinct Hippo vs. Extinct Tiger

What happens if the hippo is fighting the biggest tiger to ever live? The extinct Ngandong tiger? It was the largest tiger species and went extinct 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. The massive tiger could reach up to 13.5 feet long and weigh over 800 pounds. In this situation, the tiger would have a better chance of inflicting serious damage. However, it’d still be outweighed by a long shot.

Extinct Hippo

If the tiger fights the prehistoric Hippopotamus gorgops, things will be even grimmer for the big cat. This hippo was the largest of its kind. According to fossil evidence, this extinct hippo measured around 14 feet, had a 7-foot shoulder height and weighed 4.5 tons.

Tiger vs. Hippo: Who Wins?

The hippo wins this animal match-up. In a tiger vs. hippo battle, the big cat never had a chance.

Tigers are masters of their environment. Luckily for them, that environment doesn’t include hippos. The hippo will have the advantage in the hypothetical situation where these two species cross paths. They outweigh and outpower the tiger, no matter what the circumstance is. Even if the battle involved the world’s largest tiger, now extinct, they still couldn’t beat an adult hippo.

Hippos don’t have predators for a reason. They’re formidable foes and fight with a ferocity that terrifies lions. Nobody messes with the hippo! You can see a hippo scare a group of lions in this video. It’s not even scared of what the big cats might do to it.

A hippo would outpower and outweigh a tiger
In this hypothetical fight, the hippo would outpower and outweigh the tiger emerging victorious.

©Radek Borovka/Shutterstock.com

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Tiger vs. Hippo
Tiger vs. Hippo

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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