Hippo vs. Rhino: Who Wins the Fight?

Discover the strengths and weaknesses of a rhinoceros compared to a hippo. And decide for yourself which of these mighty mammals would win in a fight.

May 28, 2023By Donna Hobson
hippo vs rhino who wins

Hippos and rhinos rarely encounter one another, thanks to the fact that they inhabit different areas of Africa. Both are impressively sized species with various offensive and defensive capabilities that make them fearsome predators. So, who would win in a fight?

The answer is unclear, as both have their strengths and weaknesses. If we had to choose a victor, we’d probably opt for the hippopotamus. As we compare the vital stats below, you’ll see why.

Hippo Vs. Rhino Comparison

mum and baby rhino
Credit: Image by Mani300 on Pixabay
Max Length14 ft13 ft
Max Height5 ft6 ft
Max Weight3,500 - 4,500 lbs2,000 - 5,500 lbs
Speed20 mph30 mph
Bite Power1,825 PSI1,000 PSI
HabitatSub-Saharan Africa: rivers, lakes, and swampsAfrican grasslands

Hippo Vs. Rhino: Size and Weight

white rhino
Credit: Image by butti_s on Pixabay

Hippos are among the largest living land animals and can reach lengths up to 16 feet. An average female weighs 3,000 lbs, while males average 3,500 to 4,500 lbs. Their skin is several inches thick, and sharp ivory tusks can grow to two feet.

The white rhino is even larger than the hippopotamus and can exceed 5500 lbs. Their large, muscular bodies, broad chests, armor-like skin, and deadly horns combine to make them one of the most formidable opponents in the animal kingdom.

Both hippos and rhinos possess immense strength, but they demonstrate it differently. The hippo relies heavily on its incredible jaw strength to make it one of the deadliest opponents on the planet. In addition, hippos can move through the water for long periods without tiring, thanks to great endurance.

In contrast, the rhino has rounded feet and stocky legs with immense strength. They combine these strong limbs with bulky shoulders to charge their opponents and trample them into submission.

Advantage: Rhino

Hippo Vs. Rhino: Speed and Movement

white rhino family
Credit: Image by Alex Ginard on Pixabay

The vast size of a rhino could trick you into thinking it would be slow, but these huge mammals are surprisingly agile and can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. And the same can be said for the hippo, who can hit speeds of roughly 20 mph.

Hippos would have an advantage in the water as they can travel swiftly through this medium and can hold their breath for up to five minutes when fully submerged. Still, their short limbs mean they are poor climbers and lack the agility of a rhino. A rhinoceros has powerful muscles that allow it to strike with a force of 8,000 lbs, and its increased agility means it can easily scale steep slopes.

Advantage: Rhino

Hippo Vs. Rhino: Senses

hippo lurking with head above water
Credit: Image by Michael Siebert on Pixabay

One sense that severely hinders the rhino is its eyesight, which is notoriously bad. This sense is so limited that it's rated among the worst in the animal kingdom, alongside bats and moles. A rhino's sight is so bad that they will even charge trees or termite mounds, thinking they are predators. This poor sense of sight has worsened through diminished populations and inbreeding, so rhinos must rely on their sense of hearing and smell to navigate the environments around them.

A hippo's sense of eyesight is better than the rhino but still poor when you compare it to several other creatures in the animal kingdom. Instead, these mighty mammals rely on their keen senses of smell and sound to find their way around and locate prey.

Advantage: Hippo (Barely)

Hippo Vs. Rhino: Offensive and Defensive Capabilities

hippo running into the water
Credit: Image by Foto-RaBe on Pixabay

A rhino's skin is up to two inches thick with layers of collagen overlapping in a crisscross formation; this provides a good layer of protection against many animals in the kingdom, except the hippopotamus. This is because the tusks of a hippo can grow to a length of two feet, and their mouths can open to an angle of 150 degrees, giving them one of the strongest bite forces of any animal.

The hippo has the strongest bite force of any herbivore on Earth, which would (hypothetically speaking) allow them to bite a 10-foot crocodile in half. Still, the rhino has other defensive capabilities; a large hump in the neck comprises only pure muscle and allows it to swing its horn with force.

The black rhino is the most aggressive of the species and will charge at any object it perceives as a threat. These creatures will even fight one another and have one of the highest same species mortal combat rates for any mammal; up to 50% of males and 30% of females die from combat-related injuries. But, in general, the rhino is a mild-tempered and shy mammal who will only attack if it perceives a threat.

In contrast, hippos are known to be aggressive by nature and will attack with minimal provocation. Crocodiles are most commonly on the receiving end of this aggression as they share the same habitat, but hippos will also fight with one another.

Advantage: Hippo

Hippo Vs. Rhino: Who Would Win?

hippo with open mouth and teeth bared
Credit: Image by Sylwia Głowska on Pixabay

A fight between a hippo and a rhino would be a hotly contested battle. At first glance, you may think the rhino would dominate thanks to its size, armor-like skin, and deadly horn. But take a closer look, and you'll see that a few key characteristics could give the hippo an upper hand.

The rhino is almost blind, placing it at a severe disadvantage. And its milder temperament means it has less experience in fighting.

Still, a ground-based fight might see the rhino emerge victorious thanks to its increased speed and agility. These two magnificent creatures rarely encounter one another because of their different habitats, and on the rare occasions they have encountered one another, they often avoid altercations.

Therefore, it's hard to say which would remain victorious in a fight; it would all depend on the circumstances and how dedicated each beast was to the battle.

Donna Hobson
By Donna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.