Pygmy hippopotamus in exhibit

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Scientific Name
Choeropsis liberiensis
Geographic Range
West Africa
Ferns, tender roots, grasses, herbs, stems, leaves, vines, vegetables, and fallen fruit
Pygmy hippopotamus in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Endangered

More Information

Pygmy hippos measure up to 5.7 feet in length and weigh between 350–600 pounds. They have a thin layer of greenish-black skin which helps them to keep cool. These mammals are most active from late afternoon to midnight and spend at least six hours of their day feeding. They also spend time wallowing in water on drier ground. They follow regular, well-defined trails through forests and swamps, marking them with dung they spread by wagging their tail. They are generally silent and rely on body language to communicate.

Pygmy hippos are solitary except for females with young or while breeding. Their gestation period is about 188 days and newborns appear more frequently in the dry season between November and January. Young pygmy hippos are born on land and kept hidden for up to five months. They become adults at 3–5 years of age.

Did You Know?

  • Pygmy hippos may look like smaller versions of the common hippo, but they make up their own species within their own genus. The closest living relatives to hippos are whales and other cetaceans.
  • They weigh about 10 times less than their larger hippo relatives. They have longer legs and less webbed feet because they are less aquatic than common hippos. They also only have one pair of incisors, while the common hippo has two or three.
  • Their blackish skin also causes them to dehydrate more quickly, so the skin also oozes a pink fluid, called blood sweat, that makes them appear shiny or wet. It acts as a natural sunscreen.
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