Group of hippos

What do Hippos eat?

Consider being on a safari in Africa.  As the scorching Saharan sun rises,

something surprisingly catches your eye in the distance. One of the biggest beasts on Earth, a hippopotamus, dives into the river.

Hippopotamus - Botswana

Africa is home of the huge hippopotamus, also known as the hippo. They have very little hair and thick, grayish skin. Additionally, they can weigh anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 pounds and have big, round bodies and short legs!


Because their eyes, ears, and nostrils placed on top of their heads, they stay alert of their environment even when they submerged in water.


Hippos aren’t terrific swimmers because of their thick, heavy bodies, yet they can sink and move along the bottom of rivers. Their skin is protected from sunburn by spending most of the day in the water. The only time hippos actually leave the water is to eat, which happens later in the day when the sun sets.

Do you want to know what these huge creatures eat? Read to find out more!

If you enjoy playing games, you’ve probably played Hungry Hungry Hippos before. In the game, the plastic hippos enjoy chowing down on marbles. What about actual hippos?  They eat marbles, right? If not, what do they exactly eat? And are they really hungry all the time?

What Do Hippos Eat?

Hippos are so big that many people assume they eat meat because of their size. However, hippos are actually herbivores, meaning they only feed on plants.

Short grasses make up the majority of their food, though they may consume fruit if it is available. Their massive jaws have long, sharp teeth that can grow to be 20 inches long!  While eating, hippos use their lips to pull up grass and use their teeth to tear it up before swallowing.

Hippopotamus opening its mouth

Hippos are therefore actually hungry, though perhaps not as much as you might think. They only consume roughly 1% of their body weight daily. The daily food intake of other animals, including cows, can reach up to 2.5 percent of their body weight.

Hippo in the water

Hippos also have a large intestinal tract, which aids in slowing down digestion and enables the body to absorb all necessary nutrients. This promotes the health of hippos.


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