Warthog, Common

Phacochoerus aethiopicus


A member of the pig family the common warthog’s preferred habitat is open grassland, savanna and woodland. It gets its name from a single pair of “warts” situated below its eyes. These lumps of thickened skin and bristle are used as a defence from an opponent’s tusks. Males have a second pair close to their tusks. Warthogs live in a group called a sounder. This may number 16 but usually five or less. They have a varied diet, they will eat bones, soil and stones for their mineral content. They’ll also scavenge both the meat and stomach contents from a carcass.

Conservation status : Least concern
Shoulder height : 55 to 70 cm
Weight : 50 kg to 70 kg
Life span : Up to 20 years
Gestation : 5.5 months
Young : 2 to 5

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The warthog and the hippo are the only two herbivores that do not have to feed for at least twelve hours of the day. The warthog achieved this by eating highly nutritious roots and bulbs.

An adult warthog will reverse into its burrow so its tusks can be used against anything that tries to enter the hole. When it’s time to leave it will do so at full speed to reduce the chance of being caught by a predator.

A female warthog will forge a raised shelf in the burrow on which the piglets will sleep. This keeps them out of cold water which may run into the main chamber.

The warthog will use the back of its nose for shovelling earth when digging. When doing so it can close its nostrils to stop them from filling with soil.

Piglets are very playful animals, playing together and on their own. The latter may include a game of “whirling”, tail chasing.

The jawline of a warthog is fringed with upward growing white bristles that mimic tusks in an effort to ward off predators. This is particularly useful for young warthogs which are otherwise defenceless.

Piglets will eat their mother’s dung to colonise their guts with the bacteria that is needed for digestion.

The outer tusks of a warthog, which are elongated canine teeth, can reach 60 cm and the lower set 13cm. Each time it opens and closes its mouth the upper and lower tusks rub against each other which keeps the lower set razor sharp.