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ANIMAL
OF THE WEEK
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Red river hog

Scientific name: Potamochoerus porcus



CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Suidae

FEEDING TYPE: Omnivore
STATISTICS: Weight: 120-260 lbs; Length: up to 5 ft

DESCRIPTION:
Contrary to the red river hog’s name, their long, bristly hair is not always red. Depending on geographical location, the coloring will be different. Most have bright russet brown fur. The head is mostly black, making the hog look like it is wearing a mask, with white areas around the eyes and long hairs on the face. A distinct characteristic of the red river hog is its white dorsal mane and whiskers. The long white hairs on the back can stand up when the hog is excited or alarmed. Tusks are short but very sharp, and in older males there are two warts on the snout. The tail is 12 inches long.

RANGE:
West Central Africa

HABITAT:
Dense forests, thickets in savannahs, and steppes

ADAPTATIONS:
Males and females have been known to live on their own, but most live in groups of three to six hogs. Congregations of up to 100 have been documented, but typically the maximum group number is 11.

The group moves together over large areas searching for food. Red river hogs are mostly active at dusk or during the night, rooting for food by digging with their snouts. They spend their days burrowed among the dense vegetation in which they live.

The hogs mark by scraping tree trunks with their tusks and also by using foot, neck, and preorbital (base of the eye) glands. The hogs fight by pushing their foreheads together, butting heads, jabbing with snouts, and whipping each other with their tails.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Red river hogs are monogamous, and both mother and father take care of and protect the piglets. The breeding season starts in September and ends in April. The peak time for breeding is during the wet season from November to February. The females make grass nests before birth. After an average gestation period of 120 to 130 days, the mother usually gives birth to between three and six striped piglets. Females give birth once annually.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Prey to humans, lions, spotted hyena, but mostly leopards
Predator to none

STATUS:
Listed as Least Concern with IUCN.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • Populations of the red river hog have been on the rise since leopards, its biggest predator, are experiencing declining numbers.
  • Red river hogs are kept in zoos mostly for educational purposes and are considered among the most colorful and attractive of mammals.

BIBLIOGRAPHY :

  1. Querouil, S. & Leus, K. 2008. Potamochoerus porcus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1.  Retrieved on 14 August 2009
  2. McKay, Dr. George. Mammals. San Francisco: Fog City Press, 1999.
  3. Boitani, Luigi, and Bartoli, Stefania. Simon & Schuster’s Guide to: Mammals. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982.
  4. Heckel, Jens-Ove. “Red River Hog.” World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). 10 Nov. 2008
  5. Novak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Vol. I. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991

Published: September 2009

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