Pygmy Hippo Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is one of the smallest hippo species. It is mainly found in the swamps of West Africa. The animal is nocturnal and it seems more like its larger cousin, common hippopotamus. It is believed to spend most of its day near water or stream.

Pygmy Hippo Facts  

Anatomy

  • The shoulder height of the pygmy hippo is about 75–100 cm (2.46–3.28 ft) with the length measuring up to 150–175 cm (4.92–5.74 ft).
  • They weigh up to 180–275 kg (397–606 lb).
  • Pygmy hippos have relatively longer limbs and neck with the back slope slightly being forward.
  • The average lifespan of pygmy hippo is 30 – 35 years in captivity but they hardly live that much age.
  • Their skin is greenish black to a creamy gray on the lower side.

Distribution

Pygmy hippos occur in Liberia with some isolated population is found in the rest of the West Africa. They are also found in Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

pygmy hippopotamus
Pygmy Hippopotamus ©www.zoo.com.sg

Behavior

  • They are far more terrestrial species as compared to common hippos. However pygmy hippos like to live near short water bodies.
  • Unlike common hippos, pygmy hippo is likely to move either alone or in groups.
  • When males confront each other they may ignore each other.
  • Males have a greater range of about 1.85 km2 (460 acres) while females have 0.4 to 0.6 km2 (99–148 acres).
  • They will consume almost 70% of their daytime hidden in rivers.
  • Pygmy hippos are thought to stay in the same place and remain there for many days.
  • Sometimes they also make use of burrows or dens that are made in river banks. We do not know whether pygmy hippos are involved in making these burrows.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Pygmy hippos are most likely to come out of water at dusk to feed. They will follow the mark trails to move through the thick vegetation.
  • They are known to spend 6 hours a day on searching for food.
  • Pygmy hippos are herbivorous and they eat ferns, broad-leaved plants and fallen fruits. They will rarely feed on grass.

Reproductive Biology

  • Pygmy hippos attain maturity at 3 to 5 years age.
  • Female gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period of about 190 – 210 days. Twins are rare.
  • Unlike common hippos, pygmy hippos give birth not only in the water but also on land. Young will begin to swim right after it is born.
  • Infants weigh up to 4.5–6.2 kg (9.9–13.7 lb) with males are 0.25 kg (0.55 lb) heavier than females.
  • The weaning period is 6 – 8 months.

Conservation Status

Endangered

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