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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Pygmy Hippopotamus Facts

Read these pygmy hippopotamus facts to learn more about these fascinating mammals.

Pygmy hippopotamuses are found in West Africa and Liberia with a very small population of pygmy hippos also found in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. Pygmy hippos are the relatives of common hippos. Like the common hippopotamus, this species of wild pygmy are not carnivorous. Pygmy hippopotamuses are herbivorous in diet. They live in forests and swarms. A pygmy hippopotamus can move at speeds of up to 18.6 mph (29 kmph).

Pygmy hippos belong to class mammalia. They are small hippopotamuses which belongs to animalia kingdom, their phylum is chordata and the order is artiodactyla. A male pygmy hippopotamus is called a bull, a females are cows and their babies are called calves. A group of hippopotami is known as a herd or bloat. The species names for both the male and females are Hexaprotodon liberiensis. Pygmy hippopotamuses look like a small version of their larger relative, the common hippo. This semi-aquatic species also has much different behavior than their larger relatives. Pygmy hippopotamuses are a quarter the size of a common hippo. They have four stubby legs equipped with four toes. Pygmy hippos top layer is greenish-black in color, and their skin is thin and smooth to help to them stay cool in the very humid rainforest. However, their thin skin causes them to dehydrate quickly under the sun, and their skin excretes a pink liquid which gives pygmy hippos their wet appearance. That pink fluid is known as 'blood sweat' which helps pygmy hippos sensitive skin protect them from sunburn.

Pygmy hippos lungs are designed to live underwater. Even though they cannot swim, they can close their ears and nostrils when they dive underwater. They reach the age of sexual maturity around four to five years after they are born. Pygmy hippos' breeding season is not known exactly, but when cows are ready to breed there must be a bull waiting. They can mate either in the water, or on land in the forest. After the gestation period, which is six to seven months, the females give birth on land or in shallow water, and one calf is born. Pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) can live between 30 to 55 years. Pygmy hippos were introduced to zoos in the early 20th century. The conservation status of pygmy hippos is currently Endangered. The biggest danger to the remaining population of pygmy hippopotamus is the loss of habitat. In 2007, pygmy hippos were named one of the top-10 'Focal Species' by the Evolutionarily Distinct And Globally Endangered (EDGE) project. It has been reported by IUCN that the number of this species of hippos left is approximately 2,000 to 2,500 in the wild and this number is decreasing day by day.

The first pygmy hippo arrived in Europe in 1873 after Britain colonised Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, the animals started dying just after getting transported. Finally, in 1911, the undertaking was successful, and the animal appeared in Germany first, then in the Bronx zoo in New York.

In 1941, the San Diego zoo’s first pygmy hippo was an adult female named Tiny. At present, the San Diego zoo has pygmy hippos along the Hippo Trail. Pygmy hippos enjoy roaming and resting under the stars since they are largely nocturnal and are allowed free rein of their habitat.

Pygmy hippos don't kill humans, but they can be aggressive like their larger cousins (common hippo). They protect the space where they live and can fight with anyone who comes too close to their territory. They eat fruits, roots, leaves, and ferns near streams and rivers. Lions, crocodiles, and hyenas prey on pygmy hippos. Humans hunt this species of hippos for their meat.

If you liked reading these facts, also check our facts on leopard seal or North American black bear.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pygmy hippopotamus?

Pygmy hippopotamus is a small hippopotamid type of animal.

What class of animal does a pygmy hippopotamus belong to?

Pygmy hippopotamuses belong to the mammal class.

How many pygmy hippos are there in the world?

There are less than 3,000 pygmy hippos in the world.

Where does a pygmy hippopotamus live?

This species of hippopotamus lives in forests and swamps.

What is a pygmy hippos habitat?

Pygmy hippos are declining due to habitat loss. Pygmy hippos are mostly found in West Africa and Liberia, with a tiny population of pygmy hippos living in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. This hippopotamus species lives in forests, swamps or wallows. Pygmy hippopotamuses have strong muscular valves that help them close their ears and nostrils when they submerge into the water.

Who do pygmy hippos live with?

Pygmy hippos live either in small groups or alone. The small group of these hippos' is known as a herd.

How long does a pygmy hippopotamus live?

Pygmy hippopotamuses (Choeropsis liberiensis) live up to 30 and 55 years.

How do they reproduce?

The details of the mating season are relatively unknown when it comes to these hippos, but when cows are ready to breed, there would usually be a bull waiting nearby. They mate either on forest land or in water. Females give birth on land or shallow water after a period of six to seven months, and one calf is born.

What is their conservation status?

Pygmy hippos have the conservation status of Endangered. The biggest danger to the remaining population of pygmy hippopotamuses is the loss of habitat. In 2007, pygmy hippos were named one of the top-10 'Focal Species' by the Evolutionarily Distinct And Globally Endangered (EDGE) project. It has been reported by the IUCN that the population of this species of hippos is somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 in the wild. However, this number is decreasing day by day.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Fun Facts

What do pygmy hippos look like?

Pygmy hippopotamuses (Choeropsis liberiensis) look like a small version of their larger relative, the common hippopotamus. This semi-aquatic species has different behaviors than their larger relative. They can be aggressive but not belligerent. Pygmy hippopotamuses are a quarter of the size of a common hippo.

Pygmy hippos have incredibly well-designed lungs. They cannot swim but they can nurse their calves underwater.

How cute are they?

Pygmy hippopotamus babies are the cutest of all the family hippopotamidae. The grown-ups of these semi-aquatic species are cute, but individuals fear to go near them as they can get aggressive if anyone invades their space.

How do they communicate?

Pygmy hippos use snorts, grunts, hisses and squeaks to communicate, but they are typically silent. They communicate through their body language and use scent marking with their feces to alert other hippos about their presence.

How big is a pygmy hippopotamus?

Pygmy hippopotamuses are around 59.05-68.89 in (150–175 cm) long, 29.5–39.3 in (75–100 cm) tall, and 397–606 lb (180–275 kg) in weight, which is less than a quarter of the size and weight of their larger cousin. They are slate gray in color and have a barrel-shaped body.

How fast can a pygmy hippopotamus move?

A pygmy hippopotamus can move at speeds of up to 18.6 mph (29 kmph).

How much does a pygmy hippopotamus weigh?

A pygmy hippopotamus weighs up to 397–606 lb (180–275 kg). Pygmy hippos weigh less than a quarter of the weight of their larger cousin and they are half as tall as the common hippopotamus.

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male pygmy hippopotamus is called a bull, and a female is called a cow. The species names for both the male and females is Hexaprotodon liberiensis.

What would you call a baby pygmy hippopotamus?

A baby pygmy hippopotamus is called a calf.

What do they eat?

Pygmy hippos are purely herbivorous. They eat fruits, roots, leaves, and ferns near streams and rivers. They prefer the roots, leaves, ferns, and other vegetation that has fallen on the forest floor and don't eat aquatic vegetation. And if they want to eat forest vegetation that is high up or on trees, they use their hind legs to stand.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous but can become aggressive if anyone invades their space. They are very protective and territorial. They don't kill humans or any other species, but they will fight if they feel unsafe in their space.

Would they make a good pet?

Like the common hippos, a pygmy hippo cannot be a pet. Due to their aggressive nature, like a common hippopotamus, they don't like others to see or be close to their space.

Did you know...

Read some of these pygmy hippopotamus facts for kids.

In Nigeria, a distinct subspecies of pygmy hippopotamus lived until at least the 20th century, though it hasn't proved whether they were real or not. The British Museum of Natural History in London collected four pygmy hippopotamus skulls before 1969. Local populations of Nigeria were aware that the species once existed, but the fact was not documented well throughout history.

Is the pygmy hippopotamus endangered?

Yes, pygmy hippopotamuses are Endangered. It has been reported by IUCN that the population of this species of hippos is decreasing day by day. The biggest danger to the remaining population of pygmy hippopotamus is the loss of their habitat. In 2007 pygmy hippopotamuses were named one of the top-10 'Focal Species' by the Evolutionarily Distinct And Globally Endangered (EDGE) project.

In the food chain

Pygmy hippos consume a herbivorous diet. They eat fruits, roots, leaves, and ferns near streams and rivers. Lions, crocodiles, and hyenas eat pygmy hippos. Pygmy hippos don't kill humans, but they can be aggressive like their larger cousins (common hippos). They protect the space where they live and can fight with anyone who comes into their space.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals, including domestic pig, or woodchuck.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our pygmy hippopotamus coloring pages.

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