You can call them pygmy, miniature or dwarf animals, but no matter how small they are, tiny creatures make our hearts swell to new proportions.
In this video, we’re exploring the smaller relatives of various animals in the natural world. Join us to see how sometimes the most incredible beasts come in the smallest packages.
The pygmy hippo
Regular hippos have a pretty fearsome reputation, with a longer kill-list per year than sharks, lions and Jean-Claude van Damme. However, their relative the pygmy hippo, could only kill you by smothering you with cuteness. Though, as it still weighs about 275 kilograms, it could also smother you in more traditional ways.
The pygmy hippo is about half as tall as a normal hippo and only a quarter of its weight. Despite its popularity amongst animal lovers, this shiny grey blob is endangered, and can only be found in the forest and swamps in West Africa. While they’re incredibly adorable and you could just eat them up, we would ask that you don’t, as they are illegally hunted for food. In fact, hunting for bushmeat is one of the greatest threats to this poor huggable creature.
The pygmy jerboa
No, what you’re looking isn’t a Pokémon. Although, if it was, I would definitely want to catch them all, because they are beyond the legal capacity of cuteness for such a tiny body. Look at them, they’re just a head with feet and a tail! That’s not even fair!
Anyway, the Baluchistan pygmy jerboa, also called the dwarf three-toed jerboa, is found in Pakistan and weighs about 3.75 grams – that’s less than a teaspoon of sugar. It is tied with the African Pygmy Mouse for the smallest rodent in the Guiness World Book of Records. Living in the desert, they eat very little, and use a process called facultative hypothermia to slow down their bodily functions and survive in the harsh weather.
The micro pig
Did you really think you could get through a list about miniature animals without seeing that picture of a micro pig in wellies? Of course not. We’re not monsters.
Micro pigs, unlike the other animals in this video, are results of human intervention and selective breeding. The first pigs that were notably smaller than usual were used for medical research in China in the 1960s, till it was discovered that small pigs, along with potbellied pigs, were very popular with people. In the 1980s there was a rise in popularity to have pigs as pets, but as they still reached 165 kilograms at the time, it wasn’t a very good idea.
In 1993, the Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service was set up, and it’s used in a similar fashion as a dog breed registry. The breed standard for a micro pig is that it cannot grow taller than 38 cm and weigh more than 25kg. However, there are still many experts who doubt the legitimacy of a micro pig as a “breed”, as well as the ethical implications. Many people still buy what they believe is a micro piglet which will end up growing into a massive porker that’ll hog the couch.
The pygmy blue whale
Yes, the world’s largest current living animal has a pygmy cousin, and despite still being over 24 metres long, that’s nothing compared to its full size relative, which still beats it by a good 5 metres depending on the subspecies. The pygmy blue whale is a subspecies itself, and can be recognised by its broad, short baleen plates, its shorter tail and its large head size. This short tail and a proportionally large head gives it the impression of a tadpole, differentiating itself even more from larger blue whales. Despite the fact that there are two larger subspecies, it beats both in terms of numbers; there are about 10,000 pygmy blue whales in the Indian and southern Pacific Ocean, whereas the other subspecies reach 5000 specimens combined.
The Marshall’s pygmy chameleon
Whoever Marshall is, I want to meet him, just to tell him his chameleon is hella cool. Its superpower is definitely camouflage, as it can imitate a leaf to near perfection if it stands still, and its colours varies between brown and yellowish green depending on the vegetation in the area. Colours also vary between genders, as males have a greener throat with distinct yellow or white spots.
This subspecies of chameleon can be found in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and grows to be between 3.5 and 7.5 centimetres. When you consider a Common Chameleon reaches up to 20-40 centimetres, it’s hard to believe to two are related. However, there is an even smaller chameleon called the Brookesia Micra, which only grows to be 29 mm long.
And, finally, just because we like to treat you, here’s a picture of a pudú, world’s smallest deer. Just stare at that picture while fantasising about whisking it away on a magical ride over the rainbow where you’ll eat vegan marshmallows and wear quaint little hats.
While you’re in that happy place, don’t forget to like and subscribe, and we’ll see you next time!
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje