WARTHOG: A wild member of the pig family that lives in Africa
By Charles L Harmon adapted from an article by Chitraparna Sinha
Known as the ‘naked swine of the savanna’ and named so because of large warts found on its head, this particular Africa animal, a warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus), is a member of the pig family – Suidae family.
Although some, maybe you, will think the African warthog is “ugly” it has earned solid name recognition here in the USA and elsewhere. This recognition is not as a natural animal, however.
Because of the popular name warthog:
- “Warthog”, nickname for the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft
- “Warthog”, nickname for the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier U.K. military vehicle
- Warthog (Halo), a vehicle in the fictional Halo universe
- “Wart Hog”, a song by punk rock group The Ramones, on their album Too Tough to Die
I will use African warthog or similar in some places in this article.
The color of the African warthog coat varies from light red to brown and gray to mostly black It has a large flat face with prominent tusks – upper tusks are 8inches to 24 inches long; lower tusks are 4 inches long. The lengths of the tusks are shorter in a female African warthog. As one of the wild animals in Africa, a male warthog has warts on their face – below the eyes which can be up to 6 inches long. In a female African warthog and a young one, the warts are mere bumps.
A female warthog is polyvular (2 to 7 offspring a year); it can tolerate both high (it can conserve moisture inside its body) and low (it wallows and huddles together) temperatures. Two facial glands, a sebaceous gland (tusk gland located in the upper lid behind the tusks) and a preorbital gland play very significant role in the life of an African warthog.
The two existing warthog species found in Africa are:
- The Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus).
- The Desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus).
A male African warthog live either alone or in bachelors’ groups and only comes to a female’s group for the purpose of mating. A female African warthog lives in a sounder – group of three females and their offspring – and remains there for several breeding seasons. By spraying urine and wiping saliva against objects, a warthog marks its sounder territory. For shelter purpose and hiding in the night, it uses burrows.
A brief profile of the warthog is as follows:
- It is about 21.5 inches to 38 inches tall; females are smaller.
- It weighs between 150 lb and 220 lb; females weigh between 99 lb and 156 lb.
- Its lifespan is about 18 years.
- Its preferred habitat is savanna and areas with light forests.
- It is herbivorous but sometimes will eat carrion.
- Its gestation period is about 6 months (175 days).
- It is a good target to the lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs.
A favorite and preferred habitat for this African wildlife, the warthog, is the savanna and areas with light forests – it does not prefer heavy dark forests.
A warthog eats grass, roots, berries and bark and will sometimes eat carrion.
Size and Lifespan
A male warthog is about 21.5 inches to 38 inches tall; a female is smaller. A male warthog weighs between 150 lb and 220 lb; a female weighs between 9 lb and 156 lb. Its lifespan is about 18 years.
A warthog’s mating mostly takes place at the end of the rainy season. A male reaches the maturity level when it is about 4 years old whereas a female reaches the maturity level when it is between 18 and 20 months. The gestation period is about 6 months (175 days). When the young is born, it sticks to its mother till about 2 years before venturing out of its sounder.
As part of the huge array of African wild life, the African warthog is a good target of the lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and wild dog. Although a nice target for predators the African warthog is not one of the endangered animals in Africa.