The Pygmy Hippopotamus; Bite-Sized Ball of Love

The pygmy hippopotamus. An animal you just want to go up to and hold in your arms, rocking it to sleep and singing it lullabies. Unlike it's much larger cousin, these little tikes come in at half as tall as a regular hippo and 1/4 their weight. That means they weigh in at about 400-600 pounds and stand at about 32 inches high. You won't see them on the Victoria Secret runway anytime soon, but they sure as hell are cute. They also have a sloping back, unlike the straight spine of their larger relatives. This allows them to maneuver through the bushes much easier than Rosie O'don... I mean a regular hippo would. This is important because these little pygmy hippos live in the swamps of Western Africa, so they need to be used to a lot more foliage than larger hippos. Another difference is that the pygmies spend more time on land than their cousins. They still spend most of their lives in the water but they are more adapted to the water. Their skin dries and cracks pretty easily so they need to be around water so that they won't turn to dust.

Pygmy hippos are mainly herbivores, feeding on all sorts of different vegetation. They also feed on aquatic plants, something that larger hippos don't do. Their digestive track is pretty much the same as a cows which allows them to obtain the most energy they can from the food that they eat. Since plants are very hard to digest, having multiple stomach chambers and longer intestinal tracks allows them more time to absorb as much energy as they possibly can. Imagine have more than one stomach? How crazy would that be. Jenny Craig would make a killing, that's for sure. But since we also eat meat, our digestive tracks don't have to be so specialized.

These small hippos also differ from the larger variety through their behavior. I'm sure you have all seen the classic scene of a ton of hippos bathing in one watering hole, but pygmies never do this. They are much more solitary and don't gather in larger groups. Instead they maintain a territory and only interact with each other to mate. When they do cross paths, they would rather ignore each other than put up any sort of fight. Seeing these adorable little creatures fight would probably be pretty brutal anyways. Another difference is that larger hippos only mate and give birth in the water but pygmy hippos can do both on either land or water.

As for conservation, their biggest threat is habitat destruction. They are sometimes hunted by bush hunters since their meat is said to be of very high quality. But since they are pretty scattered, they aren't such a target. Their tusks also don't have any value, unlike their regular cousins, so they aren't poached as often either. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any conservation programs we can help out, besides a few zoos. I'm sure there are plenty out there though. In the meantime, try and avoid acts that promote deforestation. For example, try and recycle paper or use recycled paper. Also try to avoid products that use imported lumber which could have been a vital piece of habitat to a pygmy hippo, or any other forest dwelling animal.

Cool Random Fact:  The pygmy hippo can be heard eating from up to 150 feet (45 meters) away! 

Signing Out,


Tina said...

Very cute Danny! I love your blog. I love animals so and it makes me so sad to see them endangered. When I was a kid, in the school holidays, I filled books with projects and essays about animals. I'm really glad to have a place to come to keep in touch with what's going on.

Kris said...

As always another good post, but no random cool fact at the end. Haha it's always my fav part to read, but no worries i still liked reading about the hippos :)

Danny said...

Thanks, Tina! I'm glad this is that place, I'm also glad I have some great stories to read from your blog.

And Kris, thanks for the heads up! I completely forgot about the random fact haha, I'll be sure to edit one in :)

Kris said...

Haha thank you for taking the time to go back and add it in! Thats kind of gross that you can hear them eating that far away, but its still interesting. All animals are so unique.

Tina said...

Danny, I've given you an award for your blog. Pop on over to my place to pick it up!

Danny said...

Thank you so much Tina!

Green Gal said...

It's great that at the end of each post you include ways to help these creatures. Pygmy hippos are my sister's favorite animal. They sure are cute.

PawPrint said...

Pygmy hippos are so cute and cuddly! I love hippos so much!

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