Here's Why Hippos Are More Dangerous Than You Thought

The Hippopotamus, or "water horse," as the Greeks called it, is the third-largest land mammal in the world. They're kind of cute and kind of funny-looking, and they use that cuteness to hide just how murderous they can be. Seeing as the animal weighs between 3,000-9,000 pounds on average, according to Live Science, and can move about in the water better than most other land mammals (though they can't swim), it's easy to see why you should be absolutely terrified of this hungry-hungry animal.

Lucky for us, hippos don't typically hunt humans as prey. They live primarily on grass and the occasional fruit. Unlucky for us, hippos aren't nearly as lazy as their huge, chunky form makes them out to be. According to National Geographic, hippos can run as fast as humans for short distances. Which means they can catch you, and their mouths contain teeth that can grow over one inch long. To add terror to their cuteness, there's a rumor that hippos sweat blood. They don't, but it looks like they do, thanks to a red moisturizer their bodies secrete. But, like, hippos are cute and absolutely wouldn't hurt you, right? Ha!

The world's deadliest land mammal

This is the real reason why you should be scared of hippos: All those things we talked about before — the teeth, the weight, the speed — can kill you, but it's the hippo's aggressive nature that will actually lead them to do so. The hippopotamus is the world's deadliest land mammal, according to BBC. They kill roughly 500 people every year, which is twice as many as lions kill and almost 20 times as many as cougars kill. Hippos also have a tendency to travel in schools, so if you think you only have one hippo to contest with (you will lose), you're wrong. You actually have 10 to 30 (you will lose badly).

Avoiding hippos is easy enough. Don't go where they live: mainly sub-Saharan Africa. You can't outsmart hippos by traveling in a boat; they know how to get around it. In 2014, according to ABC News, a hippo killed 12 tween students and villagers after flipping their boat. That's 13 people killed by one hippopotamus. Being inside a car might keep you safe, but hippos have been known to attack cars and do serious damage to them, like in 2016, when a hippo rammed the front end of a driver's vehicle (the footage is on YouTube; beware of language). As far as we know, hippos have never attacked an airplane or jumped through a computer screen, but they're pretty dangerous everywhere else.