A-z - Animals

warthog

warthog facts

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"Warthogs are inherently herbivorous and necessarily omnivorous."

warthog-1

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A large member of the Suidae family, the warthog is an animal known for its four sharp tusks and padded bumps or warts on its face. Females of this species are very social, living their lives in family groups called callers. Despite their vicious appearance, these animals prefer to run from predators rather than fight, and are not aggressive unless cornered. The warthog's conservation status at this time is "Not Concerned," but humans have become a serious threat to these animals due to overhunting in some areas.

Warthog with huge tusks drinks from water
The warthog drank from the water's edge and looked like it was rolling in the mud to cool off.

©Peter van Dam/Shutterstock.com

Unbelievable Warthog Facts!

  • The thick bumps on the warthog's face help protect the males when they fight during mating season.
  • Warthogs are animals that don't build their own houses. Instead, they moved into abandoned aardvark dens.
  • Female warthogs are social animals and live in herds, while males are more territorial and prefer to live alone.
  • Like other pigs, they have no sweat glands and must wallow in mud to cool down.
  • Sows that lose their own babies tend to other suckling piglets.

scientific name

Common warthog in the wild
Common warthog in the wild

©Wim Hoek/Shutterstock.com

A warthog is a mammal, which means it is warm-blooded, and its young are suckled by the female. The common warthog's scientific name , Phacochoerus africanus , comes from the Greek words "phakos," meaning "mole or wart," and khoiros, meaning "pig or pig." As you can see, this translates directly to its common name, warthog. The last part Africanus refers to its location in Africa.



type

There are two types of warthogs:

  • The common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), which has four subspecies
    • Nolan warthog ( P. a. africanus )
    • Eritrean warthog ( P. a. aeliani )
    • Central African Warthog ( P. a. massaicus )
    • Southern Warthog ( P. a. sundevallii )
  • The desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus), once thought to be extinct but recently discovered in East Africa, has a different facial feature. For example, the ears end with curled back cusps; the front teeth are gone, and the nose is bigger. There were two subspecies, but the horned warthog ( Phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus ) became extinct in the 1870s. The remaining subspecies is the Somali warthog ( P. a. delamerei ).

evolution

The two warthogs likely diverged 4.4 million years ago. Research reveals a long history of interbreeding, disease adaptation and range expansion.

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appearance

Horizontal full length color image of a warthog kneeling to drink from a swimming pool at its hideout in the Karongwe Game Reserve, South Africa.
A warthog with a large head and four tusks will kneel on its calloused front leg pads to drink.

©Villiers Steyn/Shutterstock.com

Warthogs are large-headed animals with padded bumps and four sharp tusks on each side. They are dark brown in color and mostly bald, but they do have a bushy mane that runs from the head to the middle of the back. They also have tiny tufted tails that stand upright in the air while running. Warthogs are unusual in that they kneel down to drink water or eat grass, which makes their front legs calloused.

Average size is between 120 and 250 lbs, about 30 inches tall at the withers. Males of this species tend to be larger than females. Learn about the ugliest animals on Earth here.

Behavior

Because of their size and appearance, warthogs are considered aggressive by many people. Instead, they generally prefer to flee from predators rather than fight. They can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and are very good at avoiding danger. When fleeing danger, they return to their lair with their huge tusks facing forward so they can defend themselves if necessary.

This porcine likes to wallow in mud like its domestic cousin. They submerge themselves in water both to cool down and to hide from insects. Warthogs also have a symbiotic relationship with woodpeckers, which helps them reduce pests. These small birds ride on the backs of animals and eat the bugs that plague them.

Habitat

horned warthog
Warthogs like to live on savannahs with watering holes for them to wallow in. Shown is the extinct horned warthog.

© Avrand6/CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Warthogs are native to sub-Saharan Africa (Eastern and Southern Africa). They prefer to live in cool, open areas such as savannahs and rainforests. Although they avoid severe deserts, they sometimes live in semi-desert areas. While warthogs are excellent diggers, they don't build their own nests. Instead, they moved into abandoned aardvark dens.

diet

Warthogs are omnivores, eating almost exclusively grass and tubers. They have thick calluses on their front legs, which protect their limbs as they bend over to graze. If food is scarce, they will feed on carcasses or eat insects to meet their caloric needs, but they never seek food. They can also survive without water for several months during the dry season.

Predators and Threats

The most common predators of warthogs are lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and crocodiles. Eagles can also pose a threat to babies. Since many of these animals are nocturnal hunters, these animals go out to forage during the day and return to the safety of their burrows at night.

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Humans are also threatening warthog populations due to overcrowding and overhunting. In areas where humans are the most common predator, the animals adjust their schedules, foraging at night and hiding in their dens during the day.

Warthog reproduction, babies and longevity

young warthog
An adult warthog and a piglet. The gestation period is about 175 days.

©Herrick with Olympus C-220 Zoom, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Males are called wild boars, while female warthogs are called sows. Both boars and sows have many mates throughout their lives. Unlike many other animals, males rarely become aggressive during mating season. Fights do occur from time to time, but these rarely result in significant damage, as they usually only attack with the head and upper teeth.

Warthogs have the longest gestation period of all porcine species. Sows are pregnant for about 175 days and usually farrow during the dry season. Each litter contains an average of three babies, called piglets. Piglets only live in the litter with their mother for about six or seven weeks, and females can live their entire lives with the same voice as their mother.

On average, these animals live about 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

warthog population

Currently, the warthog is in the "least concern" position on the conservation list. In some areas, their numbers have begun to decline because there are no rules on how many of these animals a hunter can kill. Lack of regulation leads to overhunting. There are approximately 22,250 warthogs in South Africa at a recent count, but they also live in other African countries.

Warthogs still thrive in wildlife sanctuaries, but many zoos have had little success with captive breeding.

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Warthog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a warthog?

The warthog is an important member of the Suidae family and a close relative of the wild boar. They are dark brown in color and have little hair except for a mane that runs from the head to the middle of the back. Their most distinctive features are four sharp tusks and thick, bumpy pads or "warts" on their faces.

Are Warthogs Dangerous to Humans?

Warthogs are not aggressive animals, so they usually don't pose a threat to humans. However, they are still wild animals and humans should respect them. A warthog that feels threatened or cornered may attack in self-defense.

What do warthogs eat?

Warthogs prefer to eat grass and tubers, but will feed on carcasses and eat insects when food is scarce.

What do warthogs eat at the zoo?

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Although they are technically omnivores, warthogs prefer herbivores. They eat meat only when food is scarce. For this reason, a captive warthog's diet typically consists of grain pellets and alfalfa hay, supplemented with savory vegetables such as broccoli, squash, and carrots.

Where do warthogs live?

The common warthog is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, while the desert warthog lives in northern Kenya and the Horn of Africa. While they both like open spaces where they have a hard time cornering, desert warthogs prefer drier climates than common warthogs.

What is the difference between a common warthog and a desert warthog?

Desert warthogs have shorter and wider heads than common warthogs, and they have puffy areas around their eyes that extend into the warts. They are also lighter in color and have ear tips that curve back.

How fast can a warthog run?

Warthogs can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour when fleeing from predators.

How big are warthogs?

The average warthog weighs between 120 and 250 pounds and stands about 30 inches tall at the shoulder. Males of this species tend to be slightly larger than females.

To which kingdom do warthogs belong?

Warthogs belong to the animal kingdom.

Which category do warthogs belong to?

Warthogs belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum do warthogs belong to?

Warthogs belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do warthogs belong to?

Warthogs belong to the family Suidae.

What order do warthogs belong to?

Warthogs belong to the artiodactyl order.

What type of mulch do Warthogs have?

Warthogs are covered in hair.

What genus do warthogs belong to?

Warthogs belong to the genus Warthog.

Who are the warthog's natural enemies?

Predators of warthogs include lions, hyenas and crocodiles.

How many babies does a warthog have?

The average number of babies for a Warthog is 4.

What fun facts about warthogs?

Warthogs have two sets of tusks on their faces!

What is the scientific name of the warthog?

The scientific name of the warthog is Phacochoerus africanus.

What is the lifespan of a warthog?

Warthogs can live 12 to 18 years.

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source
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animals, The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) Encyclopedia of World Animals
  3. David Burney, Kingfisher (2011) The Animal Encyclopedia of Kingfishers
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) Atlas of Threatened Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia
  7. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) Encyclopedia of Mammals
  8. National Geographic, available here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/w/warthog/
  9. Safari Bookings, available here: https://www.safaribookings.com/blog/warthog-facts