Do Hippos Eat Meat?

hippos-eat-meat Credit: Andrew Moore/CC-BY-2.0

Hippos, scientifically known as hippopotamus amphibius, are herbivores, meaning they do not eat meat. They live on various species of the grasses that grow alongside their watery habitat.

The lifestyle of the hippo shapes its diet. Hippos are native to eastern central and southern sub-Saharan Africa. During the day and under the hot sun, they spend the majority of their time submerged in bodies of freshwater, including rivers, lakes and swamps. At night when it is cooler, they take to land to graze, often for hours.

Hippos will travel to find enough grass, up to 6 miles per night. They consume up to 80 to 85 pounds of grass each per night. The average hippo weighs slightly less than 8,000 pounds, and the amount they eat is about half as much as that eaten by four-legged, hoofed animals that graze and roam all day long. The hippo's relatively sedentary daytime life of resting, playing and fighting in the water accounts for their reduced need for food.

During the dry season, hippo groups, known as pods, bloats or sieges, will gather around available freshwater sources and most of the breeding will take place, with calves born during the rainy season 8 months later. Newborn hippo calves typically weigh from 55 to 100 pounds at birth. Uniquely adapted to their amphibian lifestyle, they can suckle on land or underwater by closing their eyes and nostrils.