Difference Between Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros

Hippopotamus vs Rhinoceros

Hippo and rhino are two very different animals with many significant differences between them. However, both of them are hoofed mammals relying on a herbivorous diet. There are many differences exhibited between a hippo and a rhino in their external as well as internal body organization. Since this article intends to discuss those in brief, it would be worthwhile to go through the presented information about hippopotamus and rhinoceros.


Hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibius, is a herbivorous and semi aquatic mammal of the Family: Hippopotamidae. Hippo is a very heavy animal, and it is the third largest land mammal. In fact, their bodyweights usually vary from 2250 to 3600 kilograms. Interestingly, they can run faster than a human, but their short and stocky legs can only support their heavy body for a little while on land. Therefore, they live a semi aquatic life and their usual habitats are the rivers, lakes, and swamps of the sub-Saharan Africa. Hippos prefer to stay more time in water during daytime as it allows the cooling of their body. They can mate either in or out of water, but they prefer to do it in water. Inside water, they can hold their breath up to five minutes, which enables them even diving. Their hairless skin, enormous mouth, large teeth, and barrel shaped torso characterize these artiodactyls or the even toed ungulates. However, despite they live more time in water, their skin would be more prone to damage from the heat of the sunrays. Therefore, their skin secretes a sun block or sunscreen substance, which is red in colour. However, this sunscreen substance is neither blood nor sweat. African people have been hunting hippos for meat and ivory of canine teeth. Excluding the hunting threats, hippos could live a long life that lasts for about 40 years in wild.


Rhinoceros, aka rhino, is a large mammal belongs to the Family: Rhinocerotidae. Rhino is a perissodactyl or odd toed ungulate. There are five species of them; two are native to Africa and other three are native to Southern Asia. As the definition implies for a large mammal, rhinos are heavier than 1000 kilograms, and sometimes it could be as heavy as 4500 kilograms. White rhino is the second largest land animal of the Earth. However, Sumatran and Java rhinos could be sometimes a little less than 1000 kilograms in their weight. They are herbivorous animals, and their hardened lips are excellent adaptations for grazing and browsing. Their massive body is covered with very thick skin, which is made up of layers of collagen fibres. They have a small brain despite a massive body. The most distinguishing feature of them is their horns. African and Sumatran types have two horns, but Indian and Java types have only one in each. The habitats of rhinos range from savannahs to dense forests in tropical and subtropical regions. Although it is prohibited, some people still manage to kill these endangered animals for their invaluable horns. In wild habitats, they can live about 35 years but more in captivity.

What is the difference between Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros?

• Natural geographical distribution of hippo is restricted to Africa, but not for the rhinos as they are found in Africa, as well as Asia.

• Taxonomic diversity is higher among rhinos compared to that of hippos.

• Hippo has very thick hairless skin that does not bear any sweat or sebaceous glands. However, rhinos have hairs on their very thick skin.

• Hippo has an enormous mouth and teeth, whereas rhino does not have such enormous mouth.

• Hippos do not have horns and humps, while rhinos do have their characteristic horns and distinct humps.

• Hippos are social living animals, but rhinos prefer to be solitary.

• People kill hippos for meat and ivory but rhinos for horns.

• Hippos live about 40 years, but rhinos can live about 35 years in wild.

• Hippos are semi aquatic, but rhinos are terrestrial.

• Rhino (especially white rhino) is larger than hippo.