Can You Own A Pet Hippopotamus? Is It Legal?

Wondering whether a Hippo can survive in your backyard as a pet? Well, most probably, either the domestic environment will kill the animal, or if not, the Hippo will definitely try to bring your end. The Hippopotamus is a giant wild that most individuals have only seen in books, on TVs, and on social media.

Not even all those zoos nearby have a Hippo since raising it in captivity is actually an extremely difficult task. So, what made you wonder if you could have a Hippopotamus as a pet? Let us explain why it is a bad idea.

Getting a Pet Hippopotamus: What You Need to Know?

What is a Hippo? A hippopotamus is a huge semi-aquatic animal and the third-largest land animal in the world. Hippos are mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. What makes them semi-aquatic is the fact that their eyes, ears, and nose are at the top of their head.

This feature enables them to spend maximum time inside the water while still staying alert to their predators. Hippos can even stay for long underwater while holding their breath. They have a clear membrane that allows them to see underwater without any problem.

Hippopotamus has a huge bulky body supported by four feet, an enormous head, and a small pig-like tail. Male hippos are usually 11.5 feet, whereas females from the tribe are 10 to 11 feet long.

Whereas males weigh 3,500 to 9,920 pounds, females weigh 3000 to 6000 pounds. Hippos are nearly hairless and have greyish to muddy-brown skin and faded pink underneath.

Can You Own A Pet Hippopotamus?

Where Does Hippopotamus Originate from?

There are only two known extant species of Hippopotamus today. However, the fossil record reveals that a far greater number of species were distributed over a far larger area in the past.

Not only in sub-Saharan Africa but these mammal giants were once present in Madagascar, and evidence for the same is found during various researches.

Three species of Malagasy Hippopotamus even went extinct during the Holocene on Madagascar about 1000 years before.

Some of the recent scientific theories suggest hippos and whales shared a common semiaquatic ancestor nearly 60 million years ago.

Hippopotamus Species Taxonomy Chart

NameHippopotamus
Other NamesHippos and River Hippopotamus
Scientific NamesHippopotamus amphibius
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderArtiodactyla
FamilyHippopotamidae
GenusHippopotamus
SpeciesH. amphibius
Life SpanUp to 40 years in the wild &
Up to 60 years in captivity
Conservation statusVulnerable (Population decreasing) 
Size Mass: 
1,500 – 1,800 kg (Male, Adult),
1,300 – 1,500 kg (Female, Adult)
Height: 1.3 – 1.6 m (Adult, At Shoulder)
Length: 3.3 – 5.2 m (Adult)

Do Hippopotamus Make Good Pets?

No, Hippopotamus does not make a good pet, and there are multiple reasons behind the same. Firstly, it is their size that makes it really difficult to keep Hippopotamus in captivity.

And secondly, it is their temperament and unpredictable behavior that make it extremely dangerous to have them around.

Hippos are the largest African animals and probably the ones with the most aggressive attitude. They have huge mouths and extremely big teeth that can destroy humans in one single chew.

More than being a cute and adorable pet, having a hippo is just planning a way to die sooner and more painfully.

Is it legal to keep Hippopotamus as a pet?

Hippos are enormous wild animals and are not meant for domesticating. They need acres of ground to move around, a huge feast as a daily diet, and a lot of water to soak in.

Besides that, Hippopotamus kills more humans yearly than lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, and rhinos combined.

This is one of the major reasons why they are not legal as pets across the world.

Are Hippopotamus legal in the US?

Assuming their size, it is quite evident that Hippopotamus is illegal in most states. Neither does the government allows possessing them; getting near to the hippos too is banned.

States including Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, and Ohio, that mark Hippopotamus as legal for own.

Whereas if you are a resident of Mississippi, Oregon, and Tennessee, you can apply for a permit. If the legislature allows you with a proper permit, you can possess animals like hippos.

Can you have Hippopotamus as a pet?

Just because any state or county allows it, possessing a Hippo is never a great idea. First of all, Hippos are not native to America, and thus getting them is important to the giant all the way.

This, in the first place, is a wholesome task that will never come to life due to a variety of restrictions in different places. And next, it will prove so expensive that a regular individual will definitely drop the idea.

Besides that, even if you manage to get a pet Hippo, keeping it at a domestic level is a task nearly impossible. Only for looking after this giant, a force of at least 3 to 4 individuals who can rigorously dedicate their time is required.

In addition to that, surplus money along with resources and space is another unrealistic requirement. All of this together indicates how not the idea of keeping pet Hippos will work.

All about Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus Housing Needs

Hippopotamus in the wild are adapted toward life in water, and therefore they enjoy spending more time in rivers, lakes, or other slow-moving water bodies. Instead of coming to the land, they prefer doing most of their deeds in water, even when it includes giving birth.

Keeping Hippos in captivity is not just difficult but dangerous as well. This enormous mammal can’t survive on a few acres like lions and tigers.

Imagine their size and strength and wonder how many disasters they can create even in your extended backyard. Hippos, in reality, need an incredibly expensive as their enclosure.

Besides that, they need a great deal of water (a huge lake) to cool off every time during the day. All of this is only possible in their natural habitat in the wild, and replicating it isn’t just expensive but nearly impossible as well.

And even if you are successful in replicating their habitat, you never know when the giant will break the boundaries and set himself free.

Hippopotamus Temperature and Humidity Needs

Hippopotamus prefers a water temperature of 64° to 95° Fahrenheit. Along with that, maintaining high humidity is a must.

Hippopotamus Dietary Needs

Hippos consume a mostly herbivorous diet in the wild. Some of the common food items they feed upon include grass, vegetation, and aquatic plants. Occasionally they also enjoy small shoots and reeds emerging from the ground.

Though it is less common, a lot of Hippopotamus also feed on meat. There are several instances when Hippos have shown their carnivorous behavior.

Hippopotamus Cleaning

Unlike other wild animals, Hippos are not much into self-cleaning. Instead, they have partnered with other beings for help, and a fish called the barbell contributes a lot to their cleaning.

Barbells nibble away all the ticks and parasites and even contribute to their dental hygiene. Once hippos sit in a comfortable position inside water, Barbells do their job.

Common Health Problems with Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus are susceptible to a wide variety of diseases. It is quite common for them to suffer from bacterial and viral diseases and parasites.

Some of the common health problems faced by hippos include tetanus, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, salmonellosis, anthrax, brucellosis, Rift Valley Fever, trichinosis, roundworms, ticks, and blood and liver flukes.

How Much Does a Hippopotamus Cost?

Though Hippopotamus is not in a sale, even if they do, do not expect them to cost a penny less than $15000 to $20000.

Where To Buy a Hippopotamus?

Where To Find a Hippopotamus Breeder? Buying a Hippopotamus is difficult since you won’t find any seller or breeder around. These giants wild aren’t just any other animal that can avail at a pet shop. Neither are there any known Hippopotamus farms available in or around the United States.

Hippopotamus are native to sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa, and Liberia. Finding them in other parts of the world, both in the sale or in the wild, is extremely tricky. The option is so limited that not even all Zoos can keep a Hippo in their captivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hippos friendly to other animals?

Hippos coexist with other large herbivores like elephants and water buffalos and maintain a friendly association with them. All of these grass eaters can be spotted hanging out alone while gazing at some greens.

Is Hippopotamus friendly with humans?

Hippos are dangerous, and they can get extremely aggressive. Using their large teeth and tusk, they can literally kill a human. However, unless humans enter their territory and trouble them, Hippos never attack.

Are hippos bulletproof?

Hippos are known as bulletproof or immune to bullets. It is due to the thickness of their skin and bulky body. However, the skin of their torso is fragile, and marking bullets can bring these giants down.

Wrapping up…

Owning a Pet Hippopotamus is never a good idea. These enormous animals are meant to survive in the wild away from humans, and we should let them free with that. Bringing them into the domestic environment will prove life-threatening for both humans and animals.

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