What Do Hippos Eat? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kelley Lipke

Kelley has been teaching middle school for six years and has a master's degree in educational administration.

The hippopotamus is an enormous animal that can be found in Africa. In this lesson, learn about what the hippopotamus is as well as its unique feeding habits.

What Is a Hippopotamus?

Imagine being on a safari in Africa. The hot, Saharan sun is rising and suddenly you spot something in the distance. Plunging into the river is one of the largest mammals on Earth - a hippopotamus.

A hippopotamus, sometimes called a hippo, is an enormous animal that lives in Africa. They're covered in a thick, grayish skin and have very little hair. In addition, they have big, round bodies with short legs and can weigh anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 pounds! Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are located on the top of their head, allowing them to stay alert of their surroundings while submerged in the water.

Due to their bulky and heavy bodies, hippos aren't great swimmers, but they are able to sink and walk along the bottom of rivers. Being in water most of the day also helps to protect their skin from burning in the hot sun. In fact, hippos usually only get out of the water to eat, which occurs later in the evening when the sun goes down.

Are you wondering what types of food these giant animals eat? Keep reading to find out!


A hippo submerged in water.
Hippo Water


What do Hippos Eat?

Many people think that hippos eat meat because they are so large in size. However, hippos are actually herbivores, meaning they only feed on plants. The majority of their diet consists of short grasses, but they will eat fruit if it's available. Their massive jaws have long, sharp teeth that can grow to be 20 inches long! While eating, hippos use their lips to pull up grass and use their teeth to tear it up before swallowing.

Furthermore, hippos have a long intestinal tract that helps slow down the digestion process and allows for all important nutrients to be absorbed by the body. This helps hippos remain healthy.


A hippopotamus showing off its large teeth.
Hippo Teeth


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