Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Warthog

Just before the giraffe house after Savannah Tracks

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head and body: 90-150 cm

Weight Males: 60-150kg. Females: 50-75kg

Gestation 6 months

Young 1-8 (average 2-3)

Life span Approximately 7-15 years in the wild, up to 18 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Warthogs are omnivores. They will feed on grasses, roots, berries, bark and also dead animals (carrion).

While feeding, warthogs will drop onto their padded wrists and frequently shuffle along in this position when foraging; they are the only species of the pig family to do this.

Where do I live?

Warthogs are found in Africa, typically south of the Sahara. They prefer habitats such as savanna woodland and grassland areas, with a water source close by.

Breeding

Warthogs are able to breed from 18 to 20 months old; mating season is usually after the start of the rainy season, and they will give birth during the dry season.

Females can have between 1 to 8 piglets, although usually 2 to 3 offspring are born. They are born in a sheltered a grass-lined burrow that has been dug out by the female or abandoned by other animals (such as aardvarks). When young warthogs are ready to leave the burrow, they will stay close to their mother. Young warthogs are weaned from 20 weeks; males will leave their mothers at around 15 months, whereas females often stay with their mothers.

Predators

The main predators of warthogs include lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles. Jackals and large birds of prey will hunt warthog piglets.

When facing danger, the first instinct for a warthog is to run; and it is thought that they are able to reach top speeds of 30mph! If they are close to their burrows, then they will run and hide in them. However if cornered they can use their sharp lower tusks to defend themselves.

Conservation

Warthogs are known to be abundant in many areas across their range; they are present in many protected areas and are an important prey species for many animals.  However this species is known to be widely hunted for food but also hunted by farmers for crop damage; due to this they have been removed from some regions.

While there are currently no known conservation measures in place specifically for warthogs, controlling the decline of this species the trade in bushmeat and ivory must be monitored outside these protected areas.

Did you know?

Warthogs use vocalisations (including grunts, growls, squeals and snorts) to communicate different messages such as greetings and threats to other warthogs.

A group of warthogs is known as a ‘sounder’. A group of warthogs usually has 4 to 16 individuals, mostly females and their young. Young males form ‘bachelor’ groups, whereas adult males will usually live alone.

The upper tusks (teeth) of a warthog are used just like a whetstone, they to help keep the large bottom set of tusks sharp by rubbing against them.

Male warthogs fight using their tusks, the warts on the side of their heads helps to cushion the blows, so injuries are rare.

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We visited Marwell Zoo for the day with a large group of our sheltered housing residents from Portsmouth. It was a super day which all the residents enjoyed. There was something for everyone and a favourite animal for everyone! Residents felt there was so much to see, and lovely facilities on… Read full reviewRachael - Portsmouth Town Court Resident Group, 27th October 2017