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Hippos are large mammals and herbivores with weight ranges between 1,500kg and 3,000kg. Although they are so large, they can move quickly in and out of the water.

Hippos can run up to 30 mph over short distances, faster than the estimated top speed of Usain Bolt, who ran at an average of 23.55 mph over 100 meters. Hippos can swim at just under five mph, much faster than most humans who can swim up to 2 mph. However, a professional swimmer may be able to outswim a hippo in the right conditions.

These semi-aquatic mammals spend most of their day in the water and live in family groups. Hippos come out of the water at night to eat food. 

Hippos are predominately grazing species that eat short grasses, green vegetation, leaves, ferns, and fruits to meet their dietary requirements. These species use their wide mouth to crop the grass or ferns as they walk along. 

In addition, hippos are social animals and spend time in the water to improve their physical and mental health. Not only do hippos dive and swim in the water, but they also rest on basks or in the shallows. So, hippos leave the water to eat food and return to it to rest. 

Many people have asked me if they can a person outrun or outswim a hippo? The quick answer is “NO,” humans can’t outrun and outswim hippos. Let us now delve into the details of this important and exciting subject.

Do you know what hippos eat?  Find out here


How Fast Can Hippos Run?

The common hippopotamus is a territorial and aggressive animal that can run faster than humans and various animal species despite its heavy body mass. These native sub-Saharan animal species, with an average life span of 50 years, can move 30 miles per hour. 

However, it depends on various factors, such as the hippo’s weight, terrain, and weather conditions. A hippo can run faster than 30 miles per hour if under favourable conditions. 

Some studies show that hippos can run 20 miles per hour, but other sources have confirmed that they can run 30 miles per hour. Although hippos are the second largest mammals on earth after elephants, they can run faster than humans. 

There are five ways that elephants communicate.  Find out what they are here

How Fast Can A Person Run?

Although there is no concrete evidence of how fast a human can run, the widely accepted opinion is that the maximum running speed of a person is 27.96 miles. Some studies that used machine-learning and AI-based computer simulation models highlight that the fastest man can run 23.35 miles per hour. 

Likewise, the fastest woman can run 21.32 miles per hour, and the average man and woman between the age of 20 and 40 can run 5.9 and 5.0 miles per hour, respectively. The simulation-based studies also show that the average human’s running speed is slower than various animal species, including: 

  • Cheetah (70 miles per hour)
  • Horse (40 miles per hour)
  • Bear (30 miles per hour)
  • Hippo (30 miles per hour)
  • Cat (30 miles per hour )
  • Dog (20 miles per hour)

A 2010 research study shows that humans can run at a speed of up to 40 miles per hour. Researchers state that a person’s muscles, fat deposition, stamina, and other factors affect the running speed. The speed also depends on your shoes, external weight, such as a hydration vest or backpack, and the weather conditions. 

Other factors that affect a human’s running speed include the terrain, hydration status, genetics, leg muscle strength, cross-training, weightlifting, and the frequency of the running practice.  

Hippos have extremely large teeth but do you know why?  Find out here

How Fast Can Hippos Swim?

Hippos love spending time and soaking in water. The purpose is to maintain their body temperature while staying cool in the water and basking under the sun. When a hippo enters the water, its skin produces an oily red substance, protecting the body from the sun’s UV rays and moisturizing the skin. 

The point is that hippos spend a lot of time in the water, meaning their bodies are highly familiar and compatible with swimming. So, hippos can swim at 8.0 kilometres per hour underwater. The average weight of a hippo is between 1,500kg and 3,000kg. 

The heavier the hippo, the lower the speed of the swimming. Swimming underwater is also challenging for hippos because these species do not have natural gills. However, they can still survive underwater for a few minutes. 

Experts say that hippos can’t swim underwater but adopts the locomotion style to move forward. There is a need for more research to confirm this information. Anyway, hippos can manage their body weight and bone density by balancing the gravitational force, allowing them to move forward in the water quickly and efficiently. 

Do you know why hippos grow so big?  Find out here

How Fast Can A Person Swim?

Unlike hippos that can move or swim in the water at a speed of 4.97 miles per hour, the average rate of a human swimmer is no more than 2.0 miles per hour. However, if you are an athlete or professional swimmer, the chances are that you will swim at a speed of 5-6 miles per hour, but this depends on the type of water. 

For example, swimming in a pool is relatively easier than swimming in a river or pond. According to ESPN’s report, Michael Phelps, one of the best swimmers in the world, can swim at 6.0 miles per hour. 

Like running, the speed of swimming also depends on various factors, including your fitness and water conditions. You can swim faster because swimming in a pool is free from natural forces, such as waves and currents and optimal temperature levels. On the other hand, it is challenging to swim at the same speed in harsh water conditions. 

Hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa.  Find out why in this article I wrote


Final Words

Hippos are the second-largest mammals on earth. These species are heavier, dangerous, aggressive, and hostile. The strong muscles in their short legs allow them to run faster at a speed of 30 miles per hour and the heavy bone density enables them to stay submerged in the water and move more quickly along the bottom. 

Can a person outrun or outswim a hippo? No, humans can’t do this even though a hippo has way more weight than a human. Hippos are extremely capable on land, but they can also move faster in water.