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ANIMAL
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Warthog

Scientific name: Phacochoerus africanus


CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Suidae
 

FEEDING TYPE: Omnivore
STATISTICS: Weight: 130 - 265 lbs; Length: 46 - 60 inches; Height: 30 inches at shoulder


DESCRIPTION:

The warthog’s head is large with noticeable warts that are more distinct in the male than in the female. Canines of the upper jaw are long and curved, and on the lower jaw they are straight and pointed. Both males and females have tusks, but the female’s tusks are smaller. The warthog is gray, with black or white bristles forming a coarse mane from the nape of the neck to the middle of the back. Eyesight is poor, but hearing and smell are acute. Males are referred to as boars, and females are sows. Boars are larger than sows.

RANGE:
Wide distribution over the open grasslands of central, eastern, and southern Africa, south of the Sahara

HABITAT:
Open grasslands with access to water for drinking and wallowing, and some form of shelter such as aardvark burrows or holes among rocks

ADAPTATIONS:
During the hotter parts of the day, a warthog will tend to wallow. However, a warthog is not very cold tolerant, so to stay warm it will huddle with other warthogs and use the shelter of burrows or build grass nests. It will also use the burrows to retire to at night. When retiring to the burrow, the warthog will back in for protection from predators. In the morning, it will bolt out to get a running start on any predators that may be waiting nearby. Since the warthog lives in hot climates, it is not totally dependent on watering holes. When watering holes dry up, the warthog will dig up bulbs and roots for water.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Adult males are not known to be territorial, but the males do contest mating priority. Males are usually solitary, or live in small bachelor groups. Female warthogs will form family groups, or sounders, of about three adult females and the young. Males generally leave the sounder at about two years. Some mature daughters will continue to associate with the mothers after several mating cycles. Gestation of warthogs is 170 to 175 days. Litters are born in burrows and range in number from one to seven, with an average of three. Piglets are weaned by 21 weeks, and achieve sexual maturity at 18 to 20 months. The young can accompany the mother after one week on short trips, and can fully accompany the mother at about four weeks.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Prey to lions and leopards
Predator to small mammals

STATUS:
Warthogs are not listed as threatened or endangered. Because of the warthogs’ low tolerance to cold weather, extreme weather changes are the principal cause of mortality in free-living populations. However, there is some human persecution of this species. Warthogs are viewed as competitors with livestock for grazing, and as hazards to farmers by eating their crops. There is some hunting of this species for food and tusks. However, there is some protection for this species against hunting in national parks in Africa, since the trade of live warthogs and warthog products is low, there is no protection from CITES for warthogs.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • Warthogs can be fierce opponents to predators if cornered, but prefer to flee. They can flee a predator at speeds of 30 mph.
  • The warts on the side of the face are more predominant in males, and they help protect the face during fighting.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Novak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Vol I. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991
  2. Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos. Ed. William L. R. Oliver. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 1993. pg 76-83.
  3. Warthog Page. Philadelphia Zoo.

 

Published: October 2008

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