What Are the Adaptations of a Pygmy Hippo?

adaptations-pygmy-hippo Credit: Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images

The pygmy hippopotamus has several special adaptations for living in its environment, including major sensory organs on top of its head, strong muscles to keep ears and nostrils shut underwater and secretions of a red liquid that moisturizes the skin. These special adaptations are ideal for the creature's aquatic habitat.

Pygmy hippos have eyes, ears and nostrils located at the tops of their heads to see, smell and hear while the rest of their bodies are underwater. These creatures spend all day in rivers, lakes and ponds before sleeping on the banks at night.

The ears and nostrils of the pygmy hippo squeeze tightly shut when these animals dive underwater. They can stay submerged for up to five minutes at a time before coming back up to breathe. Pygmy hippos are excellent swimmers, even though they don't spend as much time in the water as their much larger cousins.

It can get very hot in the jungles of Africa where pygmy hippos roam. In order to combat dryness, hippos stay in water when they can. If water is unavailable, their bodies secrete a mucous-type substance to keep their skin hydrated. Without these secretions, pygmy hippos would be very sensitive to sunlight.