Can Hippos Climb Trees? (Answered)

When you think of hippos, you’re probably conjuring up images of how lazy and enormous creatures they are, with a fully grown weighing up to three tons. Hippos are in the herbivorous family and reside in most African rivers.

During sunny days, they find shelter under the water but come out at night or when it is cloudy and calm in the day to find food. But the most burning question is, can hippos climb trees?

To find the best answer, we’ve taken extra steps in our research and shared it with you. See most of the insightful information in this article to expand your knowledge of hippos. Here is what you should know concerning their behavior. 

Read: Do Badgers Climb Trees?


Can a Hippo Climb a Tree?

A hippo is good at climbing short slanting trees, but do not expect to find it facing you from a tree. Its bulky body is not good for that. However, you can find it climbing over fences, steep banks, or short trees when making way. Normally, a hippo does so to escape danger or search for food. 

Besides, for an animal to climb up a tree, the tree should be able to support its weight. This is not the case with hippos. Hippos are much heavier than you could think, and for a tree to support it, it must be thicker and firm. In addition, its limbs are smaller; it becomes challenging to use them to climb taller trees.

However, its ability to climb steep banks, short slant trees, and fences is due to the nail-like hooves. These nails are sharp and can offer grip on rough and firm surfaces. 

How Fast Can a Hippo Climb a Tree?

Hippos can climb over short trees as fast as 30 km/h. They only climb short trees when running from danger or making way. However, these trees should be as short as the hippo’s height for them to be able to climb over. This disadvantage is due to its short limbs, although they are strong and can support its body. 

On the ground, a hippo can reach its top speed in just a few seconds. This character makes them reach their enemies by surprise, especially human beings. As though that is not enough, they are also good at swimming despite their smaller limbs.

So, to determine how fast hippos can climb a tree, remember that the tree should be short and strong enough to withstand its body weight. 

Why Do Hippos Climb Trees?

Hippos climb trees when feeding on the leaves. They do so if the tree trunk is slant and can offer support for its hulky body. However, on most occasions, they find support from objects like rocks to reach the leaves. Normally, they raise their forelimbs and get support from the slanting trunk or rocks, while the lower limbs offer support from the ground. 

However, in rare cases, they climb over trees to escape danger or find a way to seek nice feeding grounds. Although its limbs are short, they are incredible in that they offer support and are strong to withstand its body weight. 

If you spot a hippo before it does, find refuge as quickly as possible. Because if by any chance it happens to spot you, it will ensure you’re out of its sight. 

Read: Can Wolverines Climb Trees?

Why Are Hippos So Good at Hiding in Trees?

Hippos are so good at hiding in the trees because they have a character of standing still, becoming almost impossible to spot them. They are normally good at standing still when they notice danger or sheltering from the scorching sun. They have an incredible smell and can know foreign beings from afar. 

When cloudy and calm, hippos normally go out of the trees to gaze. The trees are only for shelter during the day. And because they love their territories, you should not be around when they come out of the trees; unless you’re in a car or safe shelter. 

You’ll never make a wild hippo friend and do what you normally do with your house pets. These creatures are very aggressive, especially the male or a mother hippo. The male is so aggressive in defending its territories from intruders, while the mother hippo does so to defend its young one from any danger. They’ll find you as a threat. 

However, hippos coexist with other animals, like crocodiles. The crocodiles are only a threat to the young hippos but not the fully grown ones. The reason behind this is the hippos’ thick skin, which makes it impossible for the crocodile to attack.  

Can a Hippo Climb a Hill?

A hippo can climb a hill. They only do so if the footing is secure. The sharp nails, like hooves, offer a grip on the ground. Besides their hulky body structure, they have strong limbs which can push them up the hill or steep banks. However, they climb hills when out of options, running from danger.

But, they have a trait of making trails connecting to water bodies in the valleys along the river channels. They use these trails persistently as their paths when shifting to other water bodies. 

Funny enough, the trails can grow into gullies during the rainy seasons, eventually turning into Small River streams. 

Also, the trails serve best when floods because they serve as draining channels. However, the hippos are not known for creating land paths. They only make their trails in the lowland waters because they spend most of their time in the lowlands, not up the hills. 


Can Hippos Climb Faster Than Humans?

Hippos can climb faster than humans. They have incredible limb energy despite their body weight. However, the ground should be tough enough for gripping; otherwise, it will not climb as fast as you think. Besides, it’ll all depend on the state and nature of the person. A normal human cannot outrun a hippo unless you’re Usain Bolt.

But as dumb as you may be, your body produces adrenaline when frightened, especially when you come across a hippo. Adrenaline is a hormone that increases body energy production. This could make you climb as fast to the point of the hippo giving up. 

Running from hippo up the hill, run left/right. The hippo is not so good at turning due to its thick and short neck. Running this way is best when you want to escape attack from hippos, whether in the lowlands or up the hill. 

How to Survive a Hippo Attack?

Run left/right to survive a hippos attack. The hippo will need to slow down at high speed to make a turn. Otherwise, it’ll roll down, hurting itself. The difficulty in turning is due to the thick and short neck size. It makes it almost impossible to turn around without moving its whole body. 

In addition, if you are near a tall tree, aim to climb it as fast as possible to a height the hippo cannot reach even after using its hind limbs to stand. Hippos cannot go up the tree, so you may find refuge until it decides to leave. 

Suppose you can run as fast as Usain Bolt; good for you. Despite being heavy, hippos can reach a top speed in a couple of seconds before you notice. So, it depends on how fast you can escape the attack. 

If you happen to be near water, do not attempt to swim. Hippos are very incredible at swimming and have more skills than you do. They are known to swim as fast as 5mph and can dive underwater for around 30 minutes. Therefore, finding refuge in water is not a good idea.

How Strong Can a Hippo Bite?

The force of a hippos bite can measure up to 12600kPa; strong enough to slice a human into two parts in a single bite. By comparison, a fully grown, strong lion’s bite force measure only 4500 kPa. Besides, hippos have an incredibly large mouths with ferocious jaw force and large sharp teeth, which could bisect you in a short time. 

Hippos use their large mouths as a defense tool against their enemies. They have neither horns nor sharp claws for defense. But the incredible mouth energy and sharp nails are good enough to scare away enemies. 

On the other hand, shooting on the skin is not a good idea if you’re to kill a hippo. The skin is tough enough to withstand bullets. So, the gun can be only a tool to scare away unless you aim at the soft skin under the lower jaw. This way, you’ll reduce its mouth energy and eventually die if the injuries are unsustainable. 

Final Verdict 

Hippos are good at climbing steep banks, short slant trees, and fences. They can even move further up hills for food or run from danger. But it is rare to find them going up a hill for no reason. They have sharp nail-like hooves that can grip the ground if it’s stiff enough to withstand the body size.

Otherwise, it’ll experience a hard time climbing. The power of their limbs is much higher than humans. Therefore, they can climb so fast than we expect. However, hippos normally love lowlands near waters; therefore, encountering hippos in hills is almost impossible.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.