Pigmy Hippopotamus


Scientific name

Hexaorotodon liberiensis

Global distribution

Discontinuous range in the lowland forest zone from Sierra Leone to Nigeria


Lowland forest

Conservation status

Vulnerable and on appendix 2 CITES

Only a few thousand individuals remain.

Physical characteristics

Body size


Head and body length 1,500 – 1,750 mm

Shoulder height 700 – 1,000 mm


160-270 kg


Above is a slaty greenish black, the sides are more grey and the under parts are grayish white to yellowish green.


The  body is without hair, except for a few bristles on the lips and tail

Piglet colouring

As parent


Tail length 200 mm

Mother and baby side view


Side views of a year old, note all clearly demarcated toes.  

Rear view


Toes details

View on the dorsal surface – emerged

Detail of the head

Male rear

Base of the feet (hind)

Anatomical points


The head is rounder than Hippopotamus

Nostrils are carried on top of the snout.  Almost circular

Eyes are set on the side and do not protrude

Skin contains special glands that secrete a pinkish substance known as “blood sweat”

Skin contains a large amount of fat.

The foot bones are separate and all toes support weight.  The terminal digital bones have nail-like hooves.  The feet are webbed (interdigital membranes) on all 4 toes

Stomach is complex with three chambers, but it is none ruminating.


Skin glands producing ‘blood sweat’

Dental formulae

(I 2-3/1, c1/1, pm 4/4 m 3/3) x 2 = 38-40



Behaviour points

Maturing age

4-5 years

Mating ritual


Seasonal breeding

Not seasonal breeders

Oestrus period

28 days lasting 2-3 days

Gestation period

184-204 days

Litter size and lactation


Birth weight

3.4 – 6.4 kg

Weaning age

6 to 8 months

Family groups

Generally solitary with overlapping ranges.

Peak activity

Most active in large afternoon and night

May occupy hollows and caves


Females may range over 40-60 ha.

Males may occupy 165 ha.


Water plants, grasses, tender shoots, leaves and fallen fruits.





Over 40 years of age