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All Things Warthog.
Information and pictures on Warthogs.
Educational, Zoological, and Classification info.

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The Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) ("African Lens-Pig") is a wild member of the pig family that lives in Africa. The common name comes from the four large wart-like tusks found on the head of the warthog, which serve the purpose of defense when males fight. They are the only widely recognized species in their genus, though some authors divide them into two species. On that classification, P. africanus is the Common (or Northern) Warthog and P. aethiopicus is the Desert Warthog, also known as the Cape Warthog or Somali Warthog.

DescriptionWarthogs
Warthogs range in size from 0.9 to 1.5 meters (2.9-4.9 feet) in length and 50 to 150 kg (110-330 pounds) in weight. A warthog is identifiable by the two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth, which are used as weapons against predators. The upper canine teeth can grow to 9 inches (23 cm), and are of a squashed circle shape in cross section, almost rectangular, being about 1¾ in (4.5 cm) deep and 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. The tusk will curve 90 degrees or more from the root, and the tusk will not lie flat on a table, as it curves somewhat backwards as it grows. The tusks are used for digging, for combat with other hogs and in defense against predators - the lower set can inflict severe wounds.

Warthog ivory is taken from the constantly growing canine teeth. Each warthog has a pair of teeth in each jaw with the lower teeth being far shorter than the upper teeth. Both pairs grow upwards, with the upper teeth being by far the more spectacular in appearance. The lower pair, however, are the more dangerous: the teeth are straight, sharply pointed, and keep a keen edge by the upper pair rubbing against the lower pair. The tusks, more often the upper set, are worked much in the way of elephant tusks with all designs scaled down. Tusks are carved predominantly for the tourist trade in East and Southern Africa.

Neither graceful nor beautiful, warthogs are nonetheless remarkable animals. They are found in most of Africa south of the Sahara and are widely distributed in East Africa. They are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months of the year. By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog is perhaps able to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling. (Camels and desert gazelles have developed a similar mechanism for survival in hot, arid environments.)

The warthog is a tough, sturdy animal. Males weigh 20 to 50 pounds more than females, but both are distinguished by disproportionately large heads and “warts”, thick protective pads that appear on both sides of the head. The warthog's large tusks are unusual: The two upper ones emerge from the sides of the snout to form a semicircle; the lower tusks at the base of the uppers are worn to a sharp cutting edge. Sparse bristles cover the warthog's body, although longer bristles form a mane from the top of the head down the spine to the middle of the back. The long tail ends with a tuft of bristles. The warthog characteristically carries its tail upright when it runs, the tuft waving like a tiny flag.

Behavior
WarthogsWarthogs live in family groups of a female and her young. Sometimes two families, often of related females, will join together. Males normally live by themselves, only joining the groups to mate.

Warthogs sleep and rest in holes. Although they can excavate, warthogs normally use those dug by other animals, like aardvarks. The shelter a hole provides is important for warthog thermoregulation, having neither fur nor fat, the warthog lacks both protection from the sun and insulation from cold. Sometimes warthogs will line their holes with grass, probably to make them warmer.

Before giving birth to a new litter, the female chases away the litter she has been raising and secludes herself. These juveniles may join up with another solitary female for a short time before they go on their own.

Female warthogs only have four teats, so litter sizes usually are confined to four young. Each piglet has its "own" teat and suckles exclusively from it. Even if one piglet dies, the others do not suckle from the available teat. Although the young are suckled for about 4 months, after 2 months they get most of their nourishment from grazing.

Sociality
A grouping of warthogs is called a sounder. Common warthog sounders are usually composed of 3 to 10 animals, although groups as large as 30 have been anecdotally reported. The "core" of the sounder is usually a sow with offspring. A sounder can be composed of multiple males and their respective offspring, and females tend to stay with the family group for several breeding seasons.

Conversely, males tend to live alone or in small groups with individuals that transition in and out of the group, but the males tend to stay within their natal range. Mature males only join female groups when sows are in heat. Males are not territorial, but will fight among themselves for mating opportunities during breeding season, sometimes inflicting significant and serious wounds with tusks.

Ecology
Although warthogs are commonly seen in (and associated with) open grasslands, they will seek shelter and forage in denser vegetation. In fact, warthogs prefer to forage in dense, moist areas when available. The common warthog diet is omnivorous, composed of grasses, roots, berries and other fruits, bark, fungi, eggs, dead animals, and even small mammals, reptiles and birds. The diet is seasonably variable, depending on availability of different food items. Areas with many bulbs, rhizomes and nutritious roots can support large numbers of warthogs. Warthogs are powerful diggers, using both heads and feet. When feeding, they often bend the front legs backwards and move around staying on the knees. Although they can dig their own burrows, they commonly occupy abandoned aardvark burrows. The warthog commonly enters burrows "back-end first", with the head always facing the opening and ready to burst out as needed.

Warthogs are fast runners and quite capable jumpers. They will often run with Warthogs their tails in the air. Despite poor eyesight, warthogs have a good sense of smell, which they use for locating food, detecting predators and recognizing other animals.

Although capable of fighting, and males will aggressively fight each other during mating season, a primary defense is to flee by means of fast sprinting. The main warthog predators are humans, lions, leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. Cheetahs are also capable of catching small warthogs.

Longevity
Wild warthogs can live up to 15 years, and captive warthogs may live as long as 18 years. The typical gestation period is 5 or 6 months and the litter size is 2 to 8 piglets, although 2 to 4 is more typical. Piglets are weaned at 3 or 4 months of age, reaching sexual maturity at 18 to 24 months. Females may give birth twice per year or in extremely rare cases, up to five litters per year.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Phacochoerus
Species: P. africanus

Binomial name

Phacochoerus africanus (Pallas, 1766)

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