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Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) & Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choerpsis liberiensis) Fact Sheet
Species: Hippopotamus amphibius - common hippopotamus
Species: Choeropsis liberiensis - pygmy hippopotamus
Common hippo: Males: Up to 1,475 kg (3,252 lb); Females: 1,360 kg (3,000 lbs)
Pygmy hippo: about a sixth the weight of common hippo
Common hippo: males: 300-505 cm (10-16.6 ft); females: 290-430 cm (9.5-14 ft)
Pygmy hippo: males: 157 cm (61.8 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 (2017 assessment)
Pygmy hippo: Endangered (2015 assessment)
Common hippo: Appendix II
Pygmy hippo: Appendix II
Population in Wild
Common hippo: 115,000-130,000 individuals
Pygmy hippo: Unknown; very roughly 2,000-3,000 for fewer adults 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
Males: 6-13 years
Females: 7-15 years
*May be much younger in managed care
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 managed care: 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
- Special glands on a hippo's skin secretes mucous that protects them from sunburn, infection, and water loss
- Low metabolic rate allows hippos 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 very strong
- Hippos mostly vocalize underwater
- Keen sense of smell
- Major threats to survival include habitat loss and hunting
- Ancient Egyptians exhibited hippos in a private zoo 3,500 years ago
About This Fact Sheet
© 2011-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Population updated Feb 2019. CITES status updated Oct 2019.
How to cite: Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) & Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choerpsis liberiensis) Fact Sheet. c2011-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ hippopotamus
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)
Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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