WARTHOG - Phocochoerus aethiopicus
SIZE: Shoulder height (m) 70 cm, (f) 60 cm; mass
(m) 100 kg, (f) 70 kg.
COLOUR: Dull grey, with smooth skin sparsely covered
by dark bristles. A mane of grey, brown or yellowish
hair runs from back of head to base of tail, which
ends in a blackish tuft.
POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 20 years
RECORD LENGTH OF UPPER TUSK: 61 cm
SPEED: 30 - 50 km/hr
MOST LIKE: The Bushpig, which is about the same size,
but lighter. The warthog's eyes are set higher, and
its ears don't have the bushpig's long tuft of hair.
The warthog runs with its tail up, the bushpig with
its tail down. The warthog has characteristic facial
'warts', and is often associated with vleis and open
HABITAT: Open grassland, often near water, avoiding
thick bush or forest.
Warthogs respond to the warning calls of other mammals
and birds, particularly the oxpeckers which often search
them for ticks, as they are short-sighted and short-legged.
They usually use abandoned aardvark burrows as their shelters,
after enlarging and modifying them, and line them with grass
before giving birth. They will also use shallower aardvark
holes as temporary shelters. When running for shelter, young
warthogs will scamper into their burrow head first, but
adults do a remarkable about-turn at the entrance, usually
accompanied by a cloud of dust, and reverse in, so as to
present their formidable tusks to an attacker. Family groups,
numbering between five and ten, avoid other warthogs that
may stray into their home ground, and maintain group contact
with soft grunts. The female will drive off the offspring
from her previous litter just before giving birth to a new
litter: if she loses a number of the new litter, the group
may be re-united, particularly her female offspring.
|Warthogs, with their conspicuous facial 'warts' and large
tusks, have had many not-too-pleasant descriptions applied to
them, but they are an integral and interesting part of African
wildlife. Despite their strange appearance, comical trot and
shortsighted and nervous disposition, they are known for their
courage and fighting spirit, and have often put wild dogs, cheetahs
and even leopards to flight. They are easily recognised as they
trot through the veld in small family groups with their tails
held erect. Warthogs are gregarious foragers that use the upper
surface of their snout as a spade, constantly digging for food
in the hardest of soils. Going down on its front knees, which
develop large, protective calluses, the warthog keeps its nose
to the ground as it walks forward, rooting out bulbs and tubers.
They are not dependant on water, but do drink if it is available.
They regularly wallow in mud, both to help control their temperature
and to provide protection from biting insects.
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