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Hippo vs Rhino Differences and Comparison

Physical Traits:

What do Rhinoceros look like?

Rhinoceros is the second largest mammals after elephants. They are well known for their enormous size and weight. The white rhino can reach a body length of about 3.5 – 4.5 m and can weigh around 3500 kg. Hippos are the third-largest mammals after elephant and rhinos. Rhinos have one or two horn on their snout which is made of keratin. Rhinos have a large body, heavy head, short neck and are broad-chested.

What do Hippos look like?

Hippos can have a body length between 3.3-5.2 m; the average weight of an adult hippo range between 1500-1800 kg. Both male rhinos and male hippos are larger and heavier than their female counterparts. Hippos have large teeth, a heavy built, stocky, sturdy, hairless body with having barrel-shaped torso. Their eyes, eyes and nostrils are located on the upper side of their head which makes them capable to see, hear and breathe while being completely submerged underwater.

Skin and Hair:

Most of the rhino species have very sparsely distributed hairs; hairs are mainly found on the ear fringes and tail bristles. The Indian rhino is hairless having brownish-grey skin having folds that bear a strong resemblance to Armour. Javan rhinos are hairless like Indian rhinos. Sumatran rhinos are slightly haired in comparison to other rhino species. Whereas Hippo’s skin is nearly 2 inches thick and hairless. They have no sweat and sebaceous glands so to keep themselves cool they highly depend on water and mud. They also secrete a red viscous fluid to protect their skin from sunburn.


Rhinos have different mouth and lips which vary according to species. White rhinos have broad flat moth as they mostly do grazing whereas black rhinos have pointed lips through which they grasp twigs and leaves. Hippos have large-sharp canines to attack their mating rivals and used as a defense.


Rhino have horn as their most distinctive feature; they have a large horn on their snout towards the nose. Unlike the horns of other mammals which have a bony core; the rhino’s horn is made of keratin a similar material of which hairs and nails are made of. All rhinos have two horn except the Indian rhino, it has only one horn. Rhinos are widely poached for their horn which is used for making some traditional medicines. Rhino’s horn starts to grow after 6 years of age. An adult horn can have a horn of about 25 centimeters. Hippopotamus has no horn they are hornless.


Where do Hippos live?

Hippos live in sub-Saharan Africa; as they are semi-aquatic mammals they prefer to live in areas having abundant water. There are two species of hippo viz. common/large hippo and a smaller one the pygmy hippo.

Where do Rhinos live?

Rhinos are mainly found in grassland and plains where there is enough grazing grounds are available. There are five species of rhinos out of which two are found in Africa and three in Asia. White rhinos were found in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The black rhino has its existence in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Asia rhinos like India one-horned rhino is found in the Assam region of India and Nepal, Sumatran and Javan rhinos are indigenous to Indonesia. 


Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros are counted among very aggressive animals. Hippos are social animals and they live in groups of 10-30 animals having a dominant male in every group. Depending on species rhinos are solitary as well as societal having strict social structure.

Rhinoceros Species

Rhinos are only found in African and Asian Continent. There are five rhinoceros species out of which 2 belong to Africa viz. White and Black Rhino and 3 are native to Asia viz. Indian, Javan and Sumatran Rhino.

White Rhino

  • Scientific Name: Ceratotherium Simum
  • Geographic Distribution: White rhinos were found in four African countries viz. Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
  • Habitat: They live in savannahs, woodlands, dense forests and grasslands. However, they prefer areas adjacent to water bodies as they drink water twice a day.
  • Physical Traits: White Rhinos are large and heavy animals weighing around 1000-3600 kg. They have square-shaped lips, small eyes and a long neck with a humped back. An adult White Rhino has a body length of about 3-4 metre with average height up to shoulder ranges between 1.70 to 2.80 metres. One might think based on the name “White Rhinos” that this rhino species is white but this is not true. They have tough skin having plate-like folds which are pale grey. So how they got their name?? The reason behind their name might be the missed translation, as these rhinos have a broad mouth for grazing they are attributed as “wide” mouthed and the word “wide” was misattributed as “white”.

Black Rhino

  • Scientific Name: Diceros Bicornis
  • Geographic Distribution: Once found all across the African continent, Black Rhinos are now found in a limited range of four countries viz. South Africa, Cameroon and Kenya.
  • Habitat: They live in a variety of habitats such as tropical forests, sub-tropical grasslands, semi-arid and arid regions.
  • Physical Traits: An adult Black Rhino has a shoulder height of about 1-1.8 metres; their body length ranges from 3 to 37.5 metres and they weigh around 800-1400 kg. Like White rhinos are not white, Black Rhinos are also not black rather they have yellow-brown to dark-brown skin. They are smaller in size than white rhinos. However, they have a distinctive physical trait, black rhinos have pointed tip on upper lips which they use to pick twigs. Both White and Black rhinos have two horns.

Indian Rhino

  • Scientific Name: Rhinoceros Unicornis
  • Geographic Distribution: These rhinos are native to the Asian continent; they are mainly found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Northern Pakistan.
  • Habitat: Black rhinos mostly live in plains, forests and swamps.
  • Physical Traits: The Indian Rhinos are the largest species of the rhinoceros. An adult Indian rhino has a height of about 1.6 to 1.9 metres and weighs around 1500-2300 kg. They are single-horned and have armoured skin which is grey.

Sumatran Rhino

  • Scientific Name: Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis
  • Geographic Distribution: Sumatran Rhinos are found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Borneo, Myanmar and the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Habitat: They live in dense forests, hilly areas and mountain moss forests.
  • Physical Traits: Sumatran Rhinos are the smallest of all rhino species. They have a body length of about 2.6-3 metres with shoulder height around 1.1-1.4 metres and weigh between 500-800 kg. They have two deep skin folds around the neck and is dark brown to grey.

Javan Rhino

  • Scientific Name: Rhinoceros Sondaicus
  • Geographic Distribution: Javan Rhinos are concentrated in a particular region of Java; however, once they were found in most of the regions of south-east Asia. Due to their widespread poaching now they are only found in Udjong Natual Reserve, Java and Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam.
  • Habitat: They inhabit tropical forests, grasslands, and low-lying areas.
  • Physical Traits: Javan rhinos are also called “lesser one-horned” rhinos due to their small-sized horn. The average height of Javan rhino is about 1.7 metres and it weighs around 1500-2000 kg. They have a single horn that is long and thin. They are slightly haired in comparison to other rhino species; sparse hairs are present around the nose and horn.

Hippopotamus Species

Pygmy Hippopotamus

  • Scientific Name: Hexaprotodon Liberiensis
  • Geographical Distribution: Pygmy Hippopotamus are native to West African countries viz. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
  • Habitat: As semi-aquatic animals, they are mainly found in water bodies or close to them. They prefer to live in low-lying areas, swamps, rivers, streams and densely vegetated areas.
  • Physical Traits: Pygmy Hippos are shy and nocturnal mammals; they look like their cousin species Common Hippos but are way smaller. An adult Pygmy Hippo weighs around 180-275 kg and has a height ranges from 75 to 100 cm with a body length of about 150-175 cm. Pygmy hippos are dark brown on top which fades along the ventral sides; they have sweat-producing glands that secrets brownish-red liquid called “blood-sweat” to protect themselves from harsh sun rays.

Common Hippos

  • Scientific Name: Hippopotamus amphibius.
  • Geographic Distribution: Common Hippos are mainly found in the Ethiopian Region of Africa.
  • Habitat: They live in shallow water bodies and come outside of water in the dawn for grazing. 
  • Physical Traits: Common Hippos are counted among the largest mammals;they are large extremely strong animal.  An adult hippo can weigh around 1300-3200 kg and have a body length of about 209-505 cm. They have tough purple grey or slate colour with very thin or sparse hairs. Being a semi-aquatic animal they can move swiftly on land and water. Adult hippos have heavy head and huge jaws with sharp incisors and canines which can grow up to 40 cm, they can open their mouth up to 18 degrees.

Hippo vs Rhino Fight: Who Would Win?

In nature, there is a very slim chance of any animal duel between rhinoceros and hippopotamus. Both are very territorial and aggressive animals; however, hippos are more aggressive than rhinos. If an animal battle happens between them; hippos has its large front canines whereas rhino has its longhorn. In comparison to hippos, rhinos are quite agile they can easily dodge any attack of hippos. If rhino gets a chance, it will pierce the hippo’s skin with its long horn which would prove to be a fatal attack and the hippo might die. Hence, we predict rhinoceros as the winner of this animal duel.

Comparison Chart: Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros

Comparison Heads Hippopotamus Rhinoceros
Kingdom Animalia Animalia
Phylum Chordata Chordata
Class Mammalia Mammalia
Order Artiodactyl Perissodactyla
Family Hippopotamidae Rhinocerotidae
Genus Hippopotamus Rhinoceros
Habitat Sub-Saharan Africa Africa and Asia
Diet Herbivorous Herbivorous
Skin Very thick and Hairless. Skin with huge folds like armour and have bumpy legs and shoulders.
Mouth Hippos have an enormous mouth and large canines. Rhinos have a broad flat mouth and some have pointed lips; they vary depending on species.
Horns and Humps Hippos neither have horn nor hump. White, black and Sumatran rhinos have two horn whereas Indian and Javan rhinos have on the horn.  Rhino also has a muscular pump.
Body Shape Sturdy, stocky having barrel-shaped torso. Enormous body with a heavy head, short neck and are broad-chested.
Colour Greyish Varies depending on species.
Behaviour Very aggressive and life in a societal structure. Very aggressive; may or may not live in groups. But single male rhino or female are mostly solitary.
Reproduction Hippos have a gestation period of 8 months and give birth to a single calf. Rhino gives birth to a single calf once every three years after a gestation period of 16 months. The calf lives with its mother till he attains the age of 4 years.
Lifespan 45-50 years The white rhino has a lifespan of about 40-50 years. Black rhinos live between 35-50 years.  
Number of Species Two Five

Comparison Video: Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros

FAQ’S: Frequently Asked Questions

Who would win hippo or Rhino?

Experts say the rRhinoceros would almost certainly outweigh the hippo by 1000 pounds

Can a crocodile kill a rhino?

Crocodiles, lions and tigers all have successfully hunted rhinoceros but is very unusual scenario.

Can a hippo eat an elephant or meat?

Hippos eating baby elephants, impala and even their own kind was first recorded by Dr Dudley in 1995 at Hwange National Park

Does a rhino have any natural predators?

Except Humans Adult rhinoceros have no real predators in the wild

Which is the biggest rhino?

he greater one-horned rhino or “Indian rhino” is the largest of rhino species