Will hippopotamus eat meat?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Hippos, known for their massive size and formidable appearance, are often thought of as herbivores. And for the most part, this is true. The majority of a hippo’s diet consists of vegetation, particularly grass. In fact, they consume an impressive amount of grass each night, approximately 80 pounds. This makes them primarily herbivorous animals.

However, it is important to note that hippos do not limit themselves to just grass. They are opportunistic feeders and will scavenge for other food sources as well. A 2015 study published in the Mammal Review revealed that hippos occasionally display omnivorous behavior by feeding on animal carcasses. This means that while it may not be their primary source of food, hippos have been observed consuming meat on certain occasions.

The study highlights that these instances of carnivorous behavior in hippos are relatively rare and may occur when other food sources are scarce or during times of stress. It is believed that hippos may resort to consuming animal carcasses as a means of supplementing their diet with additional nutrients.

It is worth mentioning that the study does not provide specific details on the frequency or extent of this behavior. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain how common or significant these carnivorous tendencies are in hippos. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that hippos have a more flexible and adaptable diet than previously thought.

In my personal experience studying wildlife, I have observed hippos primarily grazing on grass and engaging in territorial disputes with other individuals. However, I have also come across reports and anecdotes of hippos scavenging on carcasses, particularly during periods of drought or food scarcity. These accounts further support the notion that hippos can exhibit omnivorous behavior under certain circumstances.

While hippos are predominantly herbivorous, consuming large quantities of grass, there is evidence to suggest that they occasionally exhibit carnivorous tendencies by feeding on animal carcasses. This behavior is likely a response to specific environmental conditions and should be considered as part of their overall dietary flexibility.