Hippopotamus Species Overview
Today there are only two Hippo species remaining – the Pygmy Hippos and the Common Hippos. Experts believe that at least three different Hippo species have become extinct. Part of the goal now is to make sure these two are around to stay. While the number of Hippos isn’t in grave danger right now, serious reductions in numbers over the past several decades are reason to be concerned.
There are many similarities with these two Hippo species. Both of them live in the water during the day. Then at night they go on land to consume plant life. Both of these species are primarily living in Africa. There are drastically fewer Pygmy Hippos though than common Hippos. That is why you will find that most of the conservation efforts are reflected in that particular direction.
A significant difference though is that the Common Hippo is much larger. They can weigh up to 4,000 lb. as full grown adults. With the Pygmy Hippos, the average size is about 600 lb. for fully grown adults. They also live in drastically different conditions. For example the Common Hippo is one that resides in grassland areas. They prefer water that is still and that clear. They also do well in water that isn’t extremely deep or that has too many rocks at the bottom of it.
For the Pygmy Hippo though, they primarily reside in the forests of Africa. They enjoy bodies of water that are very swampy. In addition to consuming grass, this species of Hippo will also eat fruits and various types of leaves from short trees and shrubs around their environment.
Most of the Hippos you will see in captivity are the Pygmy species. This is due to the fact that they are so much smaller. From a financial point of view, a zoo can spend 1/3 less on this type of Hippo than the Common species on food alone. There are other ways to cut costs too including making living quarters that are comfortable enough for this smaller species to be satisfied in.
Due to the aggressive nature of both Hippo species, there is still plenty we don’t know about them. We do know that they aren’t related to whales and dolphins which is something that often circulates out there. We also know that they consume large amounts of vegetation daily – an average of 150 pounds of it per adult.
We also know that as the environments of humans and Hippos continue to overlap there will be more conflict. Both species of Hippos have ivory teeth that are very large. They can bring in large sums of money for those that are looking to make some extra cash. Even though it is illegal to do so, that is a common practice that continues to threaten their very existence.
The biggest area of uncertainty for the Hippo species has to do with the evolution process While it is believed that they weren’t always the large and dominant creatures we see today, we don’t know what occurred for them to become that way. Early fossils do show us smaller Hippos but that the overall body composition is very similar. If there has been evolution other than in regards to size, it has been taking place at an extremely slow pace.
As you explore more information about these two Hippo species you will get a great idea of what they are both about. They are considered to be among the most dangerous animals in the world. Perhaps that is why so many humans don’t seem to care if they destroy their living environment. They also don’t seem interested in helping with conservation efforts.