Species: Hippopotamus amphibius - common hippopotamus
Species: Choeropsis liberiensis - pygmy hippopotamus
Common hippo: Males: Up to 1,475 kg (3,253 lb); Females: 1,360 kg (2998 lbs
Pygmy hippo: about a sixth the weight of common hippo
Common hippo: males: 300-505 cm (9.8-16.6 ft); females: 290-430 cm (9.5-14 ft)
Pygmy hippo: males: 157 cm (62 in); females: Up to 150 cm (59 in)
Common hippo: 28-35 cm (11-14 in)
Pygmy hippo: 16 cm (6.3 in)
Common hippo: purple-gray or slate brown
Pygmy hippo: greenish-black above, grayish-white below
|Distribution & Status||Behavior & Ecology|
Common hippo: sub-Saharan Africa
Pygmy hippo: mainly in Liberia
Common hippo: estuaries and rivers; reservoirs
Pygmy hippo: forests
Common hippo: Vulnerable
Pygmy hippo: Endangered
Common hippo: Appendix II (trade must be regulated)
Pygmy hippo: Appendix I (no trade allowed)
Population in Wild
Common hippo: 125,000-148,000
Pygmy hippo: Unknown; possibly as few as 2,000-3,000 remaining
Walk on river bottoms and on land; do not really swim. Charge with surprising speed.
Nocturnal. Common hippo pends day submerged in water. Pygmy hipps rests near water, but also on dry ground.
Gregarious. Typical herd size of common hippo is 10-15 individuals, but ranges from 2-50. Pygmy hippo is less gregarious, being solitary or found in pairs.
Grasses and other browse vegetation near rivers.
Humans. Nile crocodiles, hyenas, and lions, when young.
|Reproduction & Development||Species Highlights|
Males: 6-13 years
Females: 7-15 years
*May be much younger in captivity
Common hippo: 227-240 days
Pygmy hippo: 188 days
One; twins rare
If enough resources, able to give birth every year.
Common Hippo: 25-55 kg (55-121 lb)
Pygmy Hippos: 5.73 kg (12.7 lb)
Age at Weaning
6-8 months (both species)
In the wild: 35-50 years
In captivity: Up to about 60 years for common hippo; 40-45 years for pygmy hippo
- Hippopotamus essentially translates to the Greek for "river horse"
- Whales are the hippo's closest living relatives
- Ancient Egyptians exhibited hippos in a private zoo 3500 years ago.
- Special glands on a hippo's skin secretes mucous that protects them from sunburn, infection, and water loss
- Low metabolic rate allows them to survive weeks without food
- Jaws open wide; males use jaw-gaping and large tusks to compete for water-based territories
- Mother-calf bond is extremely close
- Hippos mostly vocalize underwater; keen sense of smell
- Major threats to survival include habitat loss and hunting
© 2011 San Diego Zoo Global.
How to cite: Hippopatamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) & Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choerpsis liberiensis) Fact Sheet, 2011. c2011. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/hippopotamus
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)
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