The warthog is very common on the African savannah. It is an extremely diurnal animal that spends most of its day finding food and drinking water. Despite its chromed body, the warthog can easily run fast. It can reach a top speed of 50 km per hour. By comparison, the world’s fastest man – Usain Bolt – has a top speed measured at 44 km per hour.
Facts about the warthog
|Life expectancy:||12-18 years|
|Size:||75 cm high, 120-150 cm long|
|Food:||Mostly grass and roots|
|Quantity:||Not determined (Not threatened)|
|Fun fact:||Just as man is right-handed or left-handed, the warthog can be “right or left-toothed.”|
The warthog has a greyish skin, and is a very compact and muscular animal. It has virtually no hair on the body, however, the older warthog tends to grow a thin – often reddish – mane of long thick hair. The warthog has a long, thin tail that ends with a tuft of hair on the tip. The tail looks almost like small antennae because the warthog treats around, with the tail strutting straight up in the air. This is therefore also the tail you most often see first. The head is massive and appears large compared to the rest of the body, which is relatively wide and flat. The warthog has some large canines in its upper and lower mouth and acts as a kind of tusk. The males become larger than the females, and can grow over 40 cm long. The tusks in the upper mouth curve slightly, while the teeth in the lower mouth protrude more horizontally from the mouth.
The warthog feeds mostly on grass, grass roots and herbs. It is also not abnormal to see the warthog eating e.g. leaves, tubers, bulbs and various species of fungi. It is a bit erroneous, however, to portray Pumba from the Lion King as the always-insect-eating warthog. Warthogs quite rightly eat insects such as. beetles and larvae, but they often eat it only during periods of drought. Here, the warthog can also find a way to eat other kinds of meat than what comes from beetles and larvae.
The warthog is highly dependent on water. It is a very active animal during the day, which is why it often needs water. It therefore often resides at water holes. It also means that many warthogs often gather around water holes during times of drought.
The warthog can only get pregnant at certain seasons of the year. Warthogs give birth to their young at times when the young have the greatest chance of survival. The warthog has therefore, for natural reasons, developed a cycle that makes certain periods better for mating than others. The females become pregnant at the end of the first rainy season or at the latest at the beginning of the drought period. Thus, it is ready to give birth to its litter at the beginning of the next rainy season. The female gives birth to litters of 2-8 piglets. Here 2-4 is the most normal. The young are protected in caves, where they dike with the mother for approx. 5 months.
The females are herd animals. It is not unlikely to see herds of 8-15 pigs distributed among adult females and their young. During drought, there can be up to 50 or more warthogs gathered around the same water hole, so for confusion you can easily think they are all in a herd with each other. The males live alone, but still stay relatively close to the female flocks. Some males live together in bachelor groups, while the older ones are most often alone. The males usually leave their mother when they are about a year and a half old.
The warthog is part of the pig family. It is thus related to the Danish country pig and other pig species such as the deer pig, umbilical pig, wild boar, forest pig and brush pig. In addition, the warthog belongs to the category of pair-toed ungulates. The characteristic of this group is that they are all ruminants and have hooves instead of claws. This means that the warthog is closely related to other breeds than just the pig family. These are animals such as giraffes, hippos, antelopes, sheep, deer and camels.
Travelers’ questions about the warthog
Does the warthog have warts?
Both yes and no. The warthog gets its name because it gets 4 cartilaginous wart-like growths on its face. The warts grow out during the life of the pig. Two grow out just below the eyes, as well as two just above the mouth. The upper ones are the largest and all pigs have different warts, which is why no two warts are alike. It is not known what function the warts have, but there are various assumptions for it. There are those who think that warts are used to greet. The warthogs thus rub their warts against each other to give one another a loving and peaceful greeting. Others believe that warts act as a form of shield when they get into a fight with other warthogs. It is believed that the warts are used to defend the pig’s eyes from other warthogs’ pointed tusks.
Does a warthog really fart?
We have all seen the Lion King, where Timon and Pumba lovingly take care of Simba as he runs away from his lion pack. In the film, Pumba is known as the grand master of almost deadly farts. In the film, Pumbaa’s farts can be smelled for miles around, and it even causes blades of grass to lose their lives. But is there really anything about it? Do warthogs fart more?
The answer is no. Warthogs fart quite normally just like any other animal. But there may still be something about it. It is the case that herbivores often need to emit more gas than e.g. carnivorous animals. This is because plants contain (and emit) methane gas, which is what is biologically to blame for the fact that humans and animals sometimes need to relieve the pressure. Since the warthog is mainly vegetarian, it also means that it needs to let go of a wind once in a while.
Why does the warthog have tusks?
The warthog’s tusks have a very special function for survival. The warthog uses the tusks to dig into the ground to find food, e.g. bulbs, roots and tubers. In areas like Namibia, the soil is extremely dry and hard, making it difficult for the warthog to dig into the soil. This has meant that several warthogs have broken their teeth because they dig in rocky ground. Just as man is right- or left-handed, a warthog can also be right- or left-handed. It is often seen that one of the warthog’s tusks is more worn than the other.
The warthog’s teeth in the lower mouth are extremely sharp and cases have been heard where humans and other animals have been badly injured due to the warthog. Usually the warthog is very shy. It would rather take the gorge from a predator than take up the fight and defend itself. Here it is also good to be able to run 50 km per hour, as it can give an advantage over certain predators. The biggest threat to the warthog is, in addition to the human who wants the pig as a hunting trophy, animals such as lions, crocodiles, cheetahs, hyenas and leopards.
Is the warthog cave dweller?
Yes, that is the one.
Untraditionally for the pig family, the warthog lives in burrows. These caves are often excavated by ground pigs, which the warthog then takes over and settles in. This is also where the warthog gives birth to its young and hides and protects them until after approx. 50 days can accompany the mother. The warthog backs into its cave, so it is maximally ready to attack if enemies should approach the cave and threaten it.