Adult hippo and a baby hippo standing up

Are Hippos Related to Elephants?

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  • Post category:Hippos
  • Post last modified:16 September 2021
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No, hippos are not related to elephants. However, they do share some distant relatives with these animals: pigs, whales and dolphins!

Now we know that the hippos aren’t related to elephants. Let’s learn about how they are related to pigs, whales and dolphins!


A cute piglet standing on some grass

Based on fossil evidence, hippos are, in fact, a sub-group of pigs. They share the four-toed ungulate foot with these animals and their stubby legs and the barrel-chested build.


Whale half out of the sea, water spashing

Even though Whales and Hippoptoamuses look different from one another, they have a common ancestor that lives about 55 million years ago.


Dolphin in bright blue water, close up!

Dolphins are also from the group of cetaceans and share a common ancestor with hippos, which once lived over 55 million years ago. 

Cetaceans Characteristics

Cetaceans are mammals, they are warm-blooded, and their internal body temperature is the same roughly as us humans. They always give birth to live young and feed them milk in their early stages. Cetaceans also breathe air through their lungs.

Do whales feed their babies milk?

Yes, whales feed their young milk, which is produced by the female’s mammary glands. It may be a strange sight to see this happen underwater, but this is where they feed their young as it’s the environment in which they live. 

Do pigs feed their babies milk?

Yes, pigs feed their young milk, which is produced by the female’s mammary glands. Piglets are nursed until the age of six weeks old. 

Do dolphins feed their babies milk?

Yes, dolphins feed their young milk, which is produced by the female’s mammary glands. The young dolphin will place their beak, whilst being slightly ajar, into a slit and latches on to the teat. 

Do hippos feed their babies milk?

Yes, hippos feed their young milk, which is produced by the female’s mammary glands. Hippos can feed their babies milk on land and underwater. Hippos nurse their young until the age of eight months old. 

How long do hippos live?

Hippos live on average between the age of 40 – 50 years. Hippos live longer in captivity towards 50 years of age, and the wild hippos live closer to the early 40’s range.

The oldest hippo to live was the age of 65. However, this is rare! Her name was Bertha, and she lived in the Manila Zoo in the Phillippines.

Much do Hippos weigh?

  • Between 5,000 – 8,000 pounds

The heaviest hippo to be recorded weighed in at 9,000 pounds.


Did you know that the skin of a hippo is around 2 inches thick? Having thick skin helps the hippos against predators such as the Spotted Hyena, Lion or Nile Crocodile by giving them extra layers in case of any attacks. However, the fat layer under the skin is very thin.

Preditors of the Hippos

  • Humans
  • Lions
  • Nile Crocodiles
  • Spotted Hyena

Bad Swimmers

Considering hippos are from a semiaquatic family, they aren’t great at swimming. They do, however, love to spend most of their time within lakes, rivers and mangrove swamps. 

Where does the name Hippopotamus come from?

The name Hippopotamus comes from the Greek name “River horse.”

What do hippos eat?

Hippos are mainly herbivores and eat vegetation such as grass, leaves, roots and fruits. However, they are known to be more omnivorous and often eat the meat they killed.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. Teresa has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.