The common hippopotamus name means 'river horse' and the hippo spends most of its time in water.

Overview

HippopotamusCommon hippopotamus: Hippopotamus amphibius

Pygmy hippopotamus: Choeropsis liberiensis

Distribution: once numerous in rivers throughout Africa, but now extinct north of Khartoum and south of the Zambezi river, except in a few protected areas such as the Kruger National Park. The Pygmy hippopotamus lives only in Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and there have been no reliable sightings in southern Nigeria since 1945.

Habitat: in and around lakes. The pygmy hippo lives in forest streams.

Description: huge body supported on short, pillar-like legs, each with four toes ending in hoof-like nails, placed well apart. Eyes are raised on top of the large, flattish head. Small ears and nostrils slit-like and high up on the muzzle. Hairless body, except for sparse bristles on the muzzle, inside the ears and on the tip of the short tail. Large mouth armed with canine tusks; these average 0.75m but may be over 1.5m long including the long root embedded in the gums. Pygmy hippo is similar in appearance but its head is smaller in proportion to the body and it is more pig-like in shape.

Size: up to 4m in length; 1.4m at the shoulder. Weighs up to 4 tonnes. Pygmy hippo is 1.5m long, 0.8m at the shoulder and weighs up to 270kg.

Food: mainly grass and some water plants.

The common hippopotamus is the second largest living land animal, only rivalled by the great Indian rhinoceros (the elephant is the largest). Its name means 'river horse' and the hippo spends most of its time in water.

Read More: Hippo Habits

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