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Pygmy Hippopotamus image
Pygmy Hippopotamus

Pygmy Hippopotamus

(Mammal)

Pygmy Hippopotamus Baby
Pygmy Hippopotamus Baby

Pygmy Hippopotamus Habits

The pygmy hippo is a solitary animal that lives among dense vegetation along streams and swamps and in the rainforests of West Africa. It sometimes lives in cultivated areas, but the pygmy hippo is shy: it avoids people, as well as other hippos. Each hippo has its own territory. The male's territory is larger than the female's; both mark their territorial boundaries with their droppings. The pygmy hippo feeds mainly when it is dark. It spends most of the day resting within its territory. It changes resting places once or twice a week.
The pygmy hippo is hunted and eaten by the people who live in the area it inhibits. But a greater threat to the species survival is the destruction of its swamp and rainforest habitats. Fortunately several national parks have been established in the Ivory Coast and Guinea that provide some protection for the pygmy hippo.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Communication

Hippos are versatile in communication. They can make sounds like a horse neighing, which might be one reason for their name. Hippopotamus means "river horse". They also communicate by grunting, bellowing, and, of all things, mooing. A mooing sound is typically that of a female hippo looking for a mate.
A hippo's voice travels both above and below water. This happens, even though their mouths are above water as they bellow. The sound can travel through water because of a layer of fat around the hippo's larynx. Hippos like to lie in the water with only their faces above the surface. However, their larynx will be below the water's surface. The vibrations made by the larynx travel through the fat layer which allows the call to travel underwater with clarity.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Breeding

The territories of the male and female pygmy hippo often overlap; thus when a female is ready to mate, there is usually a male nearby.
A single calf is born seven months after mating. It suckles two to three times a day. For the first few weeks of its life, the calf is unable to walk very far, so the mother hides it in the bushes and returns to feed it. At five months, the calf weighs 10 times more than it did at birth. It is not known how long the calf remains with its mother, but it is sexually mature at four to five years old.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Food & Feeding

The pygmy hippo is an herbivore; it feeds only on plant material. It uproots swamp plants and eats them whole. The hippo also crushes hard fruit with its strong teeth and strips leaves from shrubs and young trees. It sometimes reaches higher branches by standing on its hind legs and leaning on the tree trunk with its front legs. The pygmy hippo feeds in the late afternoon until midnight, then returns to its resting place.

Pygmy Hippopotamus Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: 2 1/3-3 feet. Length: Head and body,5-6 feet tall, 6 inches
              Weight: 350-600 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 4-5 years in captivity
             Mating: Not known in the wild. Captive young have been born throughout the year
             Gestation: 190-210 days
             Number of young: Usually 1
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Solitary. May form small family groups
            Diet: Plant material such as leaves, shoots, roots, and fruit
            Lifespan: 30-55 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Pygmy hippo is a noisy eater. It can be heard feeding from as far away as 150 feet.
  • The pygmy hippo was unknown to western scientists until the mid-nineteenth century.
  • The pygmy hippo loses water through its skin so quickly that it must live in a damp,shady habitat.
  • The name Hippopotamus comes from the ancient greek meaning "river horse".
  • Hippopotami is also accepted as the plural for Hippopotamus.

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