Facts about the animal kingdom

How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh?

María Luz Thurman
By María Luz Thurman, Biologist/ornithologist. April 2, 2024
How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh?

Hippopotamuses (Family Hippopotamidae) are semi-aquatic herbivorous mammals that inhabit the aquatic ecosystems of Africa. Known for their imposing size, robustness and territorial behavior, hippos are one of the largest and most powerful land mammals in the world. This should be of little surprise when we consider that one of their closest relatives is cetaceans, whales being the largest extant mammal in the world. While they may not reach the size and weight of their aquatic relatives, it is common for us to wonder how much do hippopotamuses weigh?

At AnimalWised, we investigate this query by looking at baby, adolescent and adult hippo weight. We consider the factors which determine their size and learn more about these fascinating mammals.

You may also be interested in: How Do Hippos Reproduce?


  1. How much does a baby hippo weigh?
  2. How much does an adolescent hippo weigh?
  3. How much does an adult hippo weigh?

How much does a baby hippo weigh?

At birth, hippopotamuses are considered precocial. This means they are relatively well developed and have various abilities that aid in their survival. Their advanced development at birth is partly due to a long gestation period, meaning they can be quite large when born. With this in mind, we can see that a newborn hippo will weigh between 55 to 100 lb (25 to 45 kg) at birth. Although relatively well developed, they still rely on their mother to survive.

Being precocial, newborn hippos are quite agile and can move with relative ease soon after birth. This is crucial as they need to follow their protective mother to feed and be safe from potential predators. During the first months of life, a baby hippo will feed solely on their mother's milk. This milk is rich in nutrients and essential for rapid growth and development.

During the first year of life, a baby hippo can double or even triple their initial weight. This is due to the rapid growth rate and high calorie content of breast milk. It provides the energy necessary for daily activity and the development of muscle and bone structure.

The weight of a baby hippo is essential to their survival, providing them with the energy and strength needed to face the challenges of the natural world. Mother hippopotamuses are extremely protective and aggressive when defending their young, also greatly contributing to the protection and survival of their young.

During the first weeks and months of life, baby hippos stay close to their mothers in the water. Doing so provides greater protection from land predators, as well as helping them to keep cool in their often very hot environment. As they grow older and gain more strength, they begin to venture further and explore their surroundings, always under the watchful eye and protection of their mother.

You can learn more about the hippopotamus life cycle and how hippos care for their young with our article which explains how hippos reproduce.

How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh? - How much does a baby hippo weigh?

How much does an adolescent hippo weigh?

The adolescent stage in a hippo's life marks a significant transition in terms of growth and development. During this phase, hippopotamus experiences a considerable increase in size and weight.

An adolescent hippopotamus is one which is no longer a calf, but which is no longer considered an adult. This period relates to between 3 to 5 years of age. During this time an adolescent hippo can weigh between 1,300 to 2,200 lb (600 to 1,000 kg). This weight varies depending on the sex and health of the animal, as well as environmental conditions and the availability of food in its habitat. Other factors may contribute.

During adolescence, hippos continue to grow rapidly, and their diet consists primarily of:

  • Fresh grass
  • Aquatic plants
  • Fruit (in lesser amounts)

Nutrition is essential for the proper development of hippo muscles and bone structure, something which contributes greatly to weight gain during this stage of the hippo life cycle. Adolescent hippos begin to establish their position within the social hierarchy of their group. Young males may begin to demonstrate territorial behaviors and compete for dominance and access to females.

As you can see, learning how much an adolescent hippo weighs provides a fascinating insight into their physical and behavioral development. It is at this stage when they begin to become really heavy animals. Even so, they will not necessarily have reached their adult weight, something we discuss in the section below.

How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh? - How much does an adolescent hippo weigh?

How much does an adult hippo weigh?

An adult male hippopotamus can reach a length of approximately 11.5 feet (3.5 m) and a height of about 5 feet (1.5 m) at the withers. Hippopotamuses are somewhat sexually dimorphic, meaning they have physical differences depending on whether they are male or female. This includes their weight since it varies depending on whether we are talking about male or female hippopotamuses:

  • Males: can range between 3,300 to 7,100 lb (approximately 1,500 to 3,200 kg). Although exceptional cases, it is possible for them to weigh as much as 9,900 lb (4,500 kg).
  • Females: female hippos are generally smaller than males with an average weight of 2,000 to 5,500 lb (900 to 2,500 kg).

The diet of an adult hippopotamus is almost exclusively herbivorous. It is also estimated that an adult hippopotamus can consume up to 66-88 lb (35-40 kg) of food per day. This high food consumption is essential to maintain its impressive size and provide the energy necessary for their daily activity. Discover more about differences in hippos with our article on the different types of hippos.

Adult hippos are known for their aggressive territorial behavior, especially in males. Since they are mainly herbivorous mammals, many people wonder why hippos attack. Doing so is a means of defending their territories and harems of females from any intruders, using their very large canine teeth and weight to intimidate potential threats.

Additionally, adult males can exhibit complex courtship behaviors and will compete with each other to gain the favor of females during the mating season. The anatomy of an adult hippopotamus is perfectly adapted to their semi-aquatic lifestyle. They have thick, almost hairless skin that acts as a protective barrier against the sun and injuries. Additionally, their large, powerful jaws house canines and molar teeth that allow them to effectively shred the fibrous vegetation which makes up the vast majority of their diet.

With the above physical traits and behaviors, it is easy to understand that meeting a hippopotamus in the wild can be a very intimidating experience. Learn more with our article which explains why hippos are dangerous.

If you want to read similar articles to How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

  • Eltringham, S. K. (1999). The hippos: natural history and conservation. Princeton University Press.
  • Enderle, L., & McNeill, H. (2013). Hippo gains weight: added insights and complexity to pathway control. Science signaling, 6(296), re7-re7.
  • Smuts, G. L., & Whyte, I. J. (1981). Relationships between reproduction and environment in the hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius in the Kruger National Park. Koedoe, 24(1), 169-185.
  • Wheaton, C. J., Joseph, S., Reid, K., Webster, T., Richards, M., & Savage, A. (2006). Body weight as an effective tool for determination of onset of puberty in captive female Nile hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibious). Zoo Biology: Published in affiliation with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, 25(1), 59-71.
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How Much Do Hippopotamuses Weigh?