While hippos appear to be fat and slow, they can run at 30 km/h on land (19 mph). So despite being the third largest land mammals on earth, hippos can probably run faster than you!

Hippos kill more people than any other African mammal. They are very territorial animals and will charge at anyone who stands between them and the water.

These moody animals aren’t like the preconceptions of happy hippos. And their roly-poly frames are topped by an incredible set of sharp teeth. Every year they kill some 500-3000 people!

How Fast Can a Hippo Run On Land?

Hippos only accelerate to 30 km/h on flat ground. Their gait is like a gallop although they don’t lift all four feet off the ground at once.

Male hippos can weigh up to four tons (4000 kg). That’s a lot of weight but they move it quickly. A hippo can reach top speed in just a couple of seconds. Usually they catch other animals and people by surprise.

How Fast Can a Hippo “Run” Underwater?

Did you know that hippos can’t actually swim? Although they are semi-aquatic animals and have webbed feet, hippos are too heavy for swimming. Instead, they walk underwater.

A hippo can walk at 8 km/h underwater (5 mph). Every few minutes it will surface in order to breathe. Then it will sink and walk some more.

It’s even more amazing to learn that hippos can’t even float. They are nocturnal animals. By spending their days in the water they escape the sun and stay cool. Sometimes they find shallow spots to bathe. At other times they bob up and down, staying away from the sun.

Why Are Hippos So Deadly?

Hippos are cantankerous animals. They like things their way. And if anyone or anything gets in the way, the hippo will get them out of the way!

They can open their mouth at an 180 degree angle and can literally snap a person in half! This ferocious bite is good defence and means that even baby hippos aren’t on the dinner menu for big cats.

They don’t usually need to bite. When 4000 kg runs at 30 km/h there’s not much you can do. Not only do hippos defend their territory, they can be very aggressive in doing so. So they will chase other animals and people away, then maul and bite to ensure they don’t return.

How Long Can a Hippo Run at Top Speed?

Hippos don’t have amazing stamina. They can only run at 30 km/h for around half a minute, maybe less.

These giants also can’t jump. Hills and slopes really slow them down. The best way to get away from a hippo is to run uphill, away from the water. Even then – good luck!

How Fast Can Other African Animals Run?

Hippos are just one part of the wild African “marathon”. There’s always another race to enjoy when you’re on an African safari, whether it’s elephants blowing their trumpets at Cape buffalo or cheetah chasing down Thomson’s gazelle.

Now that you know how fast a hippo runs, check out some of the other interesting animal speeds.