Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros: Difference and Comparison

Both Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros are large and powerful African mammals. They often look similar sometimes; hence people get confused. If we study their features closely and understand them, It’s quite easy to recognize them.


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Below we shall have some detailed study on their feature to understand better.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses are large, herbivorous mammals living in Africa, but they are not closely related and belong to different families.
  2. One major difference is their body shape, with hippos having stocky and rotund bodies while rhinos have more elongated bodies with pronounced humps on their back.
  3. Additionally, rhinoceroses are known for their distinctive horn(s) on their snouts, which are not present in hippos.

Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros

The difference between Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros is mainly the horn. The rhinoceros has a prominent horn on its snout, which is its most distinct feature. It is made of a protein known as keratin. In contrast, Hippopotamus does not have any horns on their head. Another distinct feature is their toes. Hippos comprise four toes, whereas Rhinos comprise just three.

Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros

Hippopotamuses are huge mammals that spend most of their day in rivers or lakes. They have their eyes and nostrils on their head, adapted for seeing while submerged.

They have sharp jaws and are very aggressive animals. The females are mainly ferocious when they sense something or someone approaching their infants.

Rhinoceroses are mainly found in dense forests and tropical grasslands. They are large mammals with thick skin. They possess a characteristic horn.

They mostly have two horns, but there are one-horned rhinos as well. They are devoid of sweat glands and are never seen in the water.

They are one of the most endangered species in the world. Their horns have the valuable protein keratin, which is what they are poached for.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHippopotamusRhinoceros
FamilyUnder the class Mammalia, it belongs to the family HippopotamidaeUnder the class Mammalia, it belongs to the family Rhinocerotidae
HornsIt does not have any horns. It is one of the distinct differences to identify themIt has a characteristic horn. They are either one-horned or two-horned.
SkinTheir skin is hairless without the presence of any sweat glandsThey have thick as well as hairy skin
HabitatThey are generally semi-aquatic. They live both on land and waterThey are on the other hand terrestrial animals
ToesComprises four toes in both feetComprises three toes in both feet

What is Hippopotamus?

Hippopotamuses are the third-largest animal in the world. Due to their love for the water, they are popularly known as ‘River Horses’. They stay submerged in water for more than 6 hours a day.

Their sebaceous gland secretes a liquid that protects them from germs

Their average lifespan in the wild is up to 40 years, and their average weight s 3.5 tons.

Their life is threatened by their ivory tusks. They are very valuable in the market for making several products. The only way we can save their lives is by boycotting these products.

Along with it, we should encourage others to boycott to bring a real difference.

They do seem less aggressive as compared to rhinoceros, but they are indeed the most ferocious. Many assume hippopotamuses are harmless, but they do possess sharp jaws and powerful teeth.


What is Rhinoceros?

Rhinos are one of the most unique and largest animals in the world. Though they vary a lot in size and weight, their average weight is 1.5 tons. Their nature is very aggressive. They are herbivorous animals.

They depend on fruits, grass, and leaves for their survival. They generally live in dense forests with ample food and a comfortable location to hide.

The most distinct feature of a rhinoceros is its horn. They are mostly two-horned, but the Indian Rhinoceros is one-horned. It is made from the very precious protein keratin.

This is why their horns have high market demand, and thus they do face the incredible threat of poaching.

Compared to others, the Indian one-horned rhino is drastically decreasing in numbers. It is one of the recent endangered species.
Generally, their lifespan is 35-50 years.


Main differences between Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros

  1. The horn is the most distinct feature to differentiate between the two. All rhinos possess characteristic horns rich in keratin. They are either one-horned or two-horned. This is the reason their life is threatened by poaching since the horns are used for making various things and have high demand in the market. However, hippos are devoid of horns. They do have tusks that are rich in ivory. This is one of the reasons their life is in danger and are poached for.
  2. Coming to their behaviour, Hippos are one of the most aggressive animals. They might at times seem social from a distance, but they are actually ferocious, especially when someone approaches their infants. On the contrary, Rhinos are actually less aggressive animals as compared to hippos. They are more solitary animals who prefer their daytime to themselves. Females tend to isolate themselves while being with their babies.
  3. Although Hippopotamuses can’t swim, they spend most of their day submerged in the water. For this, they do have the required adaptation of having eyes and nostrils above their heads. Whereas, Rhinoceroses are never seen in the water. They are terrestrial animals and are mostly found in dense forests and hidden places to protect themselves.
  4. The Hippopotamus possesses an enormous mouth as well as teeth. The Rhinoceros possess a very distinct broad mouth. This feature is basically adapted for their grazing purpose.
  5. Another very distinct physical feature is the toes. Rhinos have toes on each foot. Hippos have three toes on each foot. It is a very easy feature that helps us to identify them better.
Difference Between Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros
  1. https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1982.tb02066.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031018208002423

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