Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Warthog

Just before the giraffe house after Savannah Tracks

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head-body: 105-150cm; tail length: 35-50cm

Weight 50-150kg

Gestation 160-170 days

Young 1-8

Life span 25-30 years

What do I eat?

A warthog will usually feed in the early morning and late afternoon but may also graze during the day. Warthog are powerful diggers, using the hard edge of their snout and their hooves to dig and forage for food.  They also use their sharp front teeth (incisors) to pull grass stems or strip seed heads.  Warthogs eat an omnivorous diet composed of grasses, roots, fruits, bark, fungi, eggs and carrion as well as small mammals, reptiles and birds.  This huge variety in their diet is the reason this species is very successful.

Where do I live?

The common warthog is found across sub-Saharan Africa. They are the only African pig that lives in open country; having a similar body type and behaviours to other grazers.   You can find warthogs in savannah grasslands, open bushlands, and occasionally in forested areas.

Breeding

Warthogs mate once a year during the ‘rut’ (annual mating season), where boars find females by visiting their burrows. Males fight for the females by pushing, interlocking tusks and hitting each other in the face or the sides of their body.  The mother will rear her young in a hole – either a natural one or one dug by an aardvark. When the piglets are born, the females share nest burrows and take turns suckling the piglets between them.  Piglets can be affected by the weather and picked off by predators, which means that less than half survive their first year. 

Predators

The main predators of the common warthog are humans, lions, leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. Cheetahs and African wild dogs can catch smaller warthogs.  Female warthogs will defend their piglets bravely and with great aggression. 

Conservation

The common warthog is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN red list because it is widespread and breeds quickly. However, in most areas, numbers seem to be going down. Reasons for this might include extreme weather, disease and being hunted. The main threats in eastern Africa are habitat loss and competition with livestock for water and food.  Warthogs can also be hunted for entertainment, bush meat, skins, tusks, as bait and to reduce numbers near farms.

Did you know?

Warthogs have been seen allowing mongooses and hornbills to groom and clean them to remove small, irritating bugs from their skin and hair.

A warthog is able to defend itself with its tusks and some have even managed to inflict deep and deadly wounds in lions.

The upper tusks of male warthogs measure 25-30cm long.

The warts of male common warthogs can grow up to 15cm. The warts help to protect their eyes and face from the tusks of their rivals when they fight over females.

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