Is a Hippo a Predator or Prey? Survival Instincts in Wild

Is a hippo a predator or prey? Well, sometimes they are both. Because in the dry season, when food is scarce, carnivores are desperate and would attack anything.

Crocodiles hunt baby hippopotami near water holes. At the same time, the hippopotamuses would kill lions, humans, and crocodiles to survive.

Is a Hippo a Predator

Predator vs Prey

The predator and prey are two different species of animals in an environment. The predator is the hunter, and the prey is the one hunted. They are dependent on one another, and the wheel of the food chain rotates by interactions between the two. For example, the lion and the Zebra, the bear and the fish, the wolf and the reindeer, etc.

Predator vs prey

The hunters are seen to have qualities that are helpful for them to kill. Such as speed, stealth, good sense of smell and sight, poison to kill the hunted, etc.

Whereas the hunted animals have features that help them to defend themselves. Such as agility, keen senses, thorns, camouflage, venom, etc.

Is a Hippo a Predator or Prey?

Apex killers are the ones that have no potential killers in the wild. They are at the top of the food chain. However, hippopotamuses are herbivores and rarely eat meat. But they don’t have any potential killers. Though rarely, hippos are too attacked by carnivores.

Hunters in the wild kill to eat. Under these circumstances, the hippopotamus is no hunter. Because it is a herbivore and doesn’t kill to eat; instead, it kills to survive.

Lion packs and crocodiles have to go without food for days during the dry season. Surviving the dry season is a challenge for all. Moreover, lions can’t go over 14 days without food. So they are desperate and would even try their fortune with a hippopotamus. But they often end up being impaled by the long tusks of the hippo.

8000 Newtons of jaw force could leave their skulls powdered. Many of them die of injuries. So in this sense, the hippopotamus is a hunter.

Again injured adult hippopotamuses and their calves are attacked by hyenas and Nile crocodiles. Rarely lion packs too are successful in hunting one down. This way they become the hunted.

Though sharks might be considered one of the most vicious beings in the water yet only 129 cases of shark attacks were recorded in 2019. In contrast, over 400 people died caused by hippopotamus attacks that year.


Carnivores don’t usually like to chase down a hippopotamus. It is too big and too agile to be taken down. But the injured ones and the babies are always vulnerable. The threat presented to them in the wild is at high stakes.

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Team Animalia Facts

"Team Animal Facts" is an expert group of wildlife enthusiasts who are impassioned for mysteries of animal life and dedicated to exploring them.

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