Hippo sound cover/feature image
Hippo Sounds

How Hippos Produce Sounds and Communicate Among Themselves

Animals use various methods to communicate with one another, such as sounds, actions, and scents. These methods help them convey necessary information for finding a partner, marking territory, and cooperating to find food. While we often think of hippos as large water-dwellers, we might not realise that they have unique communication methods that play a significant role in their lives.

Hippos possess a unique language of distinct sounds and behaviours that aid their understanding and interactions. Despite our fascination with their size and habitat, delving into how hippos communicate provides insights into their social dynamics. It’s like discovering a hidden treasure that unveils a new aspect of these remarkable creatures!

Discovering the Language of Hippos: Exploring Their Vocalisations

Although hippos may appear quiet, they have a remarkable way of communicating through various sounds. These sounds hold specific meanings that contribute to their interactions with each other. Let’s explore the different sounds that hippos make and the messages they convey.

Grunts, Roars, Snorts, and Bellows: Hippos utilise a range of sounds. 

Grunts are low, rumbling noises, while roars are louder and more powerful. Snorts consist of quick, sharp sounds, and bellows are thunderous and audible from a distance.

Interpreting the Sounds: Each sound has a distinct purpose. 

  • Grunts are typical during social interactions in the water. 
  • Roars signify dominance or act as warnings for others to keep away. 
  • Snorts are a way of saying, “I’m here” or “Beware!” 
  • Bellows are often associated with attracting mates or establishing territorial boundaries.

Timing and Context: Hippos produce these sounds in different situations. Grunts may occur during periods of rest in the water, while roars might express irritation. Snorts could accompany resurfacing for air or responding to threats. Bellows are typically heard during mating season when hippos seek partners.

Snorting and Roaring Hippo Sounds

Unveiling Mother-Baby Communication Underwater

In the realm of hippos, mother hippos and their calves possess a unique method of communication, particularly when submerged underwater. This resembles a secret language only they can understand.

As young hippos swim alongside their mothers, they combine sounds and gestures to convey messages. These soft grunts and gestures create a connection that keeps them close and secure. Their synchronised movements and vocalisations form a dance transcending spoken language, ensuring their bond remains strong beneath the water’s surface.

listen to a hippo make grunting sounds

Non-Verbal “Whispering” Among Hippos

Did you know that hippos have their own form of non-verbal communication? As we express ourselves through actions and expressions, hippos have their version of “whispering” through body language and behaviours.

One such action is “gaping jaws.” This isn’t a sign of aggression; it’s more like saying, “I’m strong, so be cautious!” Similarly, head-shaking can convey displeasure, mirroring our human gestures. Posturing is another crucial aspect of their communication – puffing up to look dominant or adopting a more submissive stance to avoid conflict.

In essence, hippos possess a “whispering” language of their own, employing body language to share messages and understand each other, all without uttering a word.

Hear the fascinating hippo bellow.


In conclusion, the world of hippos is not only defined by their size and aquatic habitat but also by their intricate communication methods. These magnificent creatures have developed a unique language of sounds, gestures, and postures to convey emotions, establish dominance, and build strong bonds within their social groups. From the deep grunts to the mighty roars, from the subtle head-shaking to the confident posturing, hippos paint a vivid picture of their thoughts and intentions through their non-verbal interactions.

For a firsthand experience of hippos’ captivating sounds, I encourage you to explore the videos showcasing their vocalisations in this article. These videos provide an immersive opportunity to witness the range of sounds – from the gentle grunts that echo in social settings to the resonant bellows that mark the pursuit of companionship. By observing these videos, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the rich and intricate communication tapestry that hippos weave to navigate their complex lives.

So, as you delve into the world of hippos and their extraordinary communication, take the chance to listen to their mesmerising sounds firsthand. These videos will genuinely enrich your appreciation for these remarkable animals and the fascinating ways they express themselves in their watery realm.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.