Pigmy Hippopotamus
Pigmy Hippo

Average Mass:
160-272 kg / 350-600 lb.

Average Shoulder Height:
75-100 cm / 2.5-3.3 ft

Rowland Ward:


Pigmy Hippo Spoor

Track: Size Not Available

Pigmy Hippo Distribution

Mainly confined to Liberia , the pygmy hippo may also survive in Nigeria and possibly Guinea Bissau, while its occurrence has been confirmed in Guinea , Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone (Oliver, 1993; Wilson & Reeder, 1993). Its distribution map was acquired from Oliver (1993); Dr. H. Klingel revised the map ( 31 January ‘97 )

Categorical-discrete (CD) distribution model

The species is closely associated with water bodies in forested areas (Oliver, 1993; Nowak, 1991; Kingdon, 1997; Stuart & Stuart, 1997).

Pygmy hippos have numerous resting places throughout their territory, which they use exclusively when sleeping.  These resting places are usually found in moist to wet terrain.  Pygmy hippos seek food on higher, drier ground, and are most active between 6 pm and midnight.  Both sexes have home ranges, though those of males are much larger than those of females: a female's range covering 100-150 acres, and a male's covering about 400 acres.  Despite extensive overlapping of home ranges, pygmy hippopotamuses rarely meet others of their species.  Indeed, they actively avoid encounters with others, presumably through dung marking.  Most movements are along 'roads' - cleared paths, canals, and tunnels - which are used by several hippos.  During the breeding season, males seek out receptive females, who tolerate the males' presence when in heat.  Mating takes place on land and in the water throughout a period of two days, in which 1-4 copulations may occur.  When threatened, pygmy hippos  usually flee: trotting into the dense jungle for a short ways, then hiding till the danger has passed.  Normally silent, they have been recorded snorting, grunting, hissing, groaning, and squeaking.

Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Water plants, grasses, fallen fruit, leaves.
Main Predators: Leopard.

Some zoologists replace the genus Hexaprotodon with Choeropsis.  More pig-like than its larger relative, the pygmy hippo's scientific status has been quite varied - when it was first described, many dismissed it as a stunted freak, a dwarf subspecies or a juvenile specimen of the common hippopotamus.  After its initial description, when no more news of the pygmy hippo reached the west, many scientists wrote it off - whatever it was - as extinct.  However, its true status - as a distinct and existent species - was proven by Schomburgk in 1911, when he captured five live specimens and brought them back to Europe.  The name hippopotamus is from hippos (Greek) a horse, and potamos (Greek) a river - although "river-pig" would be much more appropriate!  While this ungulate is large in comparison to most others, it gets its name 'pygmy' from the fact that it is much smaller than the river hippopotamus..