There are three words that put the fear of death into the very bravest of souls. Three words to make your blood run cold. Hungry.Hungry. Hippos. While they make look adorable, hippos are not sweet, gentle creatures. They are the deadliest animal on the Nile River, with their human body count topping that of lions.
It’s estimated that they kill 500 people per year In Africa. Having said that, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is you’ve just wandered into the hippo’s home, and it is very, very angry. The good news is, we’re here to help. Today you’re going to learn HOW TO SURVIVE a hippo attack.
Hippos are the third-largest land mammal in the world after elephants and white rhinos. A female hippo can weigh approximately 1,400 kgs (3,100 lbs) with males weighing up to 4,500 kgs (9,000 lbs.) But don’t let their hefty size fool you. Hippos are surprisingly adept and can run up to 48 kph (30 mph). That’s as fast as horses. And one has you and your boat in its sights.
Could you outhink the vicious hippo? Do you have any chance of going toe-to-toe with one? Or are you just another addition to its body count?
Step 1: Introduce Yourself … CAREFULLY
Okay, this is a tough one. Hippos are vegetarians and don’t eat humans, but that doesn’t mean it won’t rip you apart. Hippos are very easily startled, and if you surprise one, well, it was nice knowing you. What you want to do is, while standing far enough away, make loud noises to let it know you’re there. Hopefully, this will cause them to go away. If not …
Step 2: Observe
Watch carefully. These next few seconds may be the difference between life and death. Aww, Mrs. Hippo is yawning. Oh, she’s so sleepy.
WRONG! Yawning is an early warning sign that you’re getting too close for comfort. If you’re nearby in the same waterway, turn around and leave as fast as you can. Hippos are extremely territorial, so make sure you put as much distance between you and the hippo as you can, by going in the other direction. OK, good, now just back out very slowly and … oh no, you’ve been spotted.
Step 3: RUN
Hippos can easily outrun your tiny human legs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. Beats staying here, right? You need to avoid moving in a straight line and find obstacles to help slow the hippo down. Use things like rocks and termite mounds. The best move you could make is to climb into a tree, or up onto a hill where it won’t be able to reach you. So hopefully, you’ve made it to higher ground. But if not, brace yourself.
Step 4: Fight dirty
Hippos have a bite force of over 13,000 kPA (2,000 psi) and can open their mouths 180 degrees. That’s enough to bite an adult crocodile in half. If you are unfortunate enough to be in the horrifying grips of a hippo, try to punch or kick its snout or go for their eyes.
If your arms are already in the hippo’s throat, try to reach for the back of their throat and grab anything in its mouth. You want to make the animal as uncomfortable as possible. It’s not time to play nice. You have to fight dirty. If you put up enough of a fuss, hopefully, the hippo will be too uncomfortable to deal with you. Next, get the heck out of there!
Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in this dire situation. Hippos are considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa, and their attacks leave very few survivors. Thankfully for you, it’s pretty hard to stumble on them by accident. Unlike deadly snakes or spiders, which you can easily walk into, you are in no danger of suddenly coming upon a hippo. That is, unless you’re watching this video on a dense, grassy plane. While we’ve gone into several steps to protect yourself, the best way to survive a hippo attack is to stay away!
- “The Eight Animals Most Likely To Attack You – And How To Survive “. Charlotte Johnstone. 2017.The Telegraph.
- “‘They Are Evil Monsters That Attack Us Night And Day’: Senegal’s Terrifying Killer Hippo Problem“. 2020. National Post.
- “Safari Guide Was Swallowed By A ‘Monster Hippo’ Who Left Him With One Arm“. Hodge, Mark. 2018. The Sun.
- “‘I Was Swallowed By An Angry Hippo And Ripped Apart But Miraculously Survived‘”Kitching, Chris. 2019. Mirror.
- “Hippos Can’T Swim—So How Do They Move Through Water?“.LaFrance, Adrienne. 2017. The Atlantic.