A TINY RIVER HORSE
by J.E. Rogers
The word hippopotamus comes to us from the Greek and means ‘river horse.’ There are two species in the Hippopotamidae family, and the Pygmy Hippo is one of them. Although he is the smaller of the two species, there’s nothing small about this mammal! He’s got a whole lot of cuteness! This week we’ll take a look at the Pygmy Hippo.
Photo credit: Michael Leach & Meriel Lland (arkive.org)
There is a huge difference in size between the Pygmy Hippo and the common or River Hippopotamus. Pygmy Hippos grow to a weight of about 350 to 600 pounds. The common Hippopotamus can reach weights of 2200 to 9900 pounds. Although these two cousins look alike, that’s where the similarity between the two species ends.
The Pygmy Hippo lives mainly in western Africa, specifically in Liberia, but can also be found in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. There are little to no conservations efforts in any of those countries. However, captive breeding programs have been successful. Below are two maps which show the range of the two mammals. It’s easy to see that our big guy, the common hippo, has a much greater range, whereas this week’s guest, the Pygmy Hippo, is confined to a small area. The Pygmy Hippo is, as you might have guessed, endangered. This rare mammal is threatened as a result of human hunting and habitat destruction. The only other threat is the leopard.
There are other differences as well. The Pygmy Hippo has a slender body, longer legs, and a narrower mouth. This slimmer body allows them to run through the forest quickly when necessary. The Pygmy Hippo is more of a land dweller than its cousin. They simply don’t spend as much time in the water as does the common hippo. As a result, the common hippo’s feet are more webbed than the Pygmy Hippo’s. Also, the common hippo’s eyes are on the top of their head, whereas the Pygmy Hippo’s eyes are lower.
Pygmy Hippos give birth on land or in water. At birth, the Pygmy Hippo only weighs between 7 and 14 pounds. The common hippo baby is born underwater and can weigh 55 to 110 pounds at birth.
Speaking of babies, here are two super videos of a baby Pygmy Hippo which was born at the Wipesnade Zoo in England.
The Pygmy Hippo is a solitary animal, living either singly or in pairs. They prefer to live in swamps or near rivers. It is believed that they can live in the wild for 30 to 50 years.
If you would like to learn more about the Pygmy Hippopotamus, visit any or all of the following sites:
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Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!
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