Hungry Hungry Hippos Game!

Name: Hungry Hungry Hippos (or Hungry Hippos)

Number of players: The Hungry Hungry Hippos game allows 2 to 4 players

Recommended ages: 4 and over

Average playing time: Less than five minutes per round


Playing a speedy game will always go down well with younger children, while older kids will enjoy trying to put some sort of strategy into what is essential a game of luck. Hungry Hungry Hippos is a physical game that requires little or no thought and just enough motor skill to push a lever quickly. This game can be a great way to teach young children about dealing with defeat and that the fun is actually playing the Hungry Hungry Hippos game with other people.

How to Play

This game can be over before you know it. You will need a specific game board, which is traditionally a red circle with four colored hungry hungry hippos situated around the edge. Each person takes control of a hippo, which is operated by a lever that comes out of the back of the animal. When the lever is pushed, the head moves up and forwards, and retracts when the lever is let go. Underneath the mouth is a channel that leads down under the hippo’s body and into a bowl next to the player.

The Hungry Hungry Hippos Game starts with one player emptying the set of small marbles into the center of the playing area. All players must wait until the balls are still before the player who emptied the marbles says, “go” and the players try to capture as many marbles as possible. Each time a hippo’s mouth closes over a marble, it drops into the channel and is removed from the game. The game stops when all of the marbles have been “eaten.”

Winning the Game

A game of Hungry Hungry Hippos ends when all the balls are gone and the winner is the player who has the most number of marbles in their bowl at this point. The game is quick and furious and lends itself to a few replays before players get bored. To make the game a little more interesting, try these variations:

  • Add one ball at a time – This makes the game more tactical than just pushing the lever as quickly as you possibly can. With four players, it becomes more about judging the right timing for your grab rather than just being quicker than your opponents.
  • Lowest number wins – Traditionally the player with the most number of marbles at the end of the game wins, but inverting this rule can be a real challenge. Trying not to eat the marbles is a much harder challenge, as you have to maneuver your opponents into making a mistake.
  • Two players with two hippos each – A bigger challenge for two players, is taking control of two hippos per person. This helps to develop manual dexterity in both hands while making the Hungry Hungry Hippos game harder.


The only strategy to this game is to move your hungry hungry hippo as quickly and as often as you can. You may have to warn younger players not to get too enthusiastic as they make break the plastic levers.

Final Thoughts

Buying a Hungry Hungry Hippos game will always be a good investment as it makes a perfect filler if dinner is taking a while or other times when young children need to wait. You can also buy travel versions, which have completely covered game boards meaning that the marbles are contained within the game. These are great for keeping children occupied during long car journeys. All in all, a great game that stands the test of time!

Remember to have fun!

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