Pygmy hippopotamus

Pygmy hippopotamus

Hexaprotodon liberiensis
EN

IUCN status
Endangered
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Pygmy hippopotamus

« The pygmy hippopotamus was only discovered in the 19th century. »

A miniature hippopotamus

Discover an incredible mammal which, despite its small size, has it all!

The pygmy hippopotamus could easily be mistaken for the common hippopotamus (also called the river hippopotamus), except that it is much smaller. At the withers, it is only half as tall as its cousin and is less than a quarter of the weight of the common hippo! Its massive body has a rounded back and its hindquarters are higher than its withers. This characteristic helps it to move through the dense undergrowth where it lives. Although it is less adapted for aquatic life than the common hippopotamus, the pygmy hippo possesses nostrils and ears that can be closed before taking a dive!

Pygmy hippopotamus

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Carnet de Bord - Ep11

A quick dip for the pygmy hippos

Having just arrived in Beauval’s equatorial dome, the pygmy hippos, Luna and Robert, enjoy their first bath!

The Beauval Nature association

For the past 10 years, the Beauval Nature association has joined forces with field workers to support them in their primary mission of species conservation. Beauval works closely with numerous conservation and research programmes around the world to study and protect endangered species. This everyday action takes place in order to protect our biodiversity.

Pygmy hippopotamus

The peaceful but powerful Robert

With a calm and curious nature, Robert settled into The Equatorial Dome at the same time as an older female called Luna. 

Since then, he has made the most of his large pool by bathing in it and hydrating his sensitive skin.

Pygmy hippopotamus
Pygmy hippopotamus
Pygmy hippopotamus
Pygmy hippopotamus
Beauval Nature

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Endangered

Learn more about the species

Range
Africa
  • Diet
    Herbivore
  • Gestation period
    6 to 6½ months
  • Litter size
    1 young
  • Habitat
    Freshwaters, Wetlands, Tropical forests
Stealth that never ceases
The pygmy hippopotamus was only discovered in the 19th century. This little nocturnal hippopotamus is not very gregarious, generally living alone in very dense forests making it difficult to spot. Being such a discrete species complicates pygmy hippopotamus population censuses, which estimate there to be less than 3,000 individuals in the wild. It is nevertheless fundamental to understand this species’ distribution and lifestyle in order to set up conservation programmes.
Unusual but natural sun protection
The skin of the pygmy hippopotamus, like that of the common hippopotamus, secretes a substance that gives its body a pink or sometimes red hue. The intriguing appearance of these secretions has resulted in the name “blood sweat”. These secretions are in fact neither blood nor sweat, but are a substance with antiseptic, moisturising properties that also acts as a sunscreen. What an ingenious form of natural protection for the animal’s fragile skin!
Pygmy hippo feeding behaviour
Like the common hippo, the pygmy hippo is herbivorous. It feeds mainly on ferns, fallen fruits, and aquatic plants. The vegetation in its habitat only very rarely allows it to add plants growing at ground level, dicotyledons, to its diet. Spending its days happily in the water, it is at nightfall that this semi-aquatic mammal ventures onto land and sets off in search for food.

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