|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.|
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.
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.
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.
Warthogs are fast runners and quite capable jumpers. They will often run with 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.
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