When Hippo Meets Crocodile: River Monster Showdown

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Some rivers are more dangerous than others…

In Africa, Nile crocodiles are extremely dangerous and are estimated to be responsible for 275 to 745 attacks per year, which is more than any other crocodile species combined. Yet, crocodiles are not the most dangerous animals in Africa; That title goes to the hippopotamus.

Hippos are the most aggressive and dangerous animals in Africa, and unlike crocodiles, they can and will capsize small boats and kill whomever ventures into their territory.

Hippo Mouth - Photo by Tambako the Jaguar

Yet, in many parts of Africa, crocs and hippos share the same habitat. What happens when the two meet?

Anything goes when these two monsters of the river cross paths.

While confrontations can turn deadly, crocs generally leave hippos alone and stay on their good side, knowing very well that hippos are much bigger and stronger than they are. Even baby hippos are generally left alone when with their mother.

However, if they can get a calf alone, crocs will sometimes seize the opportunity for an easy meal.


Beyond this, hippos and crocs have a somewhat strange and unpredictable relationship; For instance, hippos will often lick or chew on crocodiles as they feed or bask. Scientists haven’t come up with an explanation for this yet.

National Geographic explained in a video, “Why do the crocs put up with this? Well, first of all — the hippos are no threat [to their food source], they’re mainly vegetarian. Secondly, the hippos are more powerful than the crocs — so the crocs carry on as if the hippos aren’t there.”


Despite this odd chewing behavior, the two species usually coexist peacefully and respect one another.

However, there are random occasions when one of the two will test the waters — like in this instance where a croc tried to steal a meal from a hippo. The hippo chased the sneaky croc down and gave it a good chomp, perhaps a display of dominance.


If we had to choose, we would probably take the risk of a croc encounter over a hippo. An estimated 2,900 people are killed every single year by hippos.

Hippos are not to be taken lightly. They don’t even get along with each other!

Would you want to get in the middle of this? Here, males fight to win over the group of resident females. These matches can last for hours and are extremely brutal.


There have only been a few crocodiles massive enough to instill fear in the hippopotamus: One such croc was a massive 18-foot-long beast of a crocodile known as “Gustave.” Gustave was known to hunt large prey, including other crocodiles, water buffalo, and indeed, hippos.

Which animal would you rather encounter?

Watch an intense standoff between this giant crocodile and a group of hippos in the video below:

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