The Warthog named after the four warts found on its face which are used for defense is found over much of Africa’s Savannas. These warts consist of a combination of bone and cartilage. The animal has a reputation for being able to fight although it normally only does that if it has no other option.
When threatened the Warthog runs with its tail pointing straight up in the air. It normally heads for its burrow which it reverses into so it is able to defend its position with its very potent head and tusks. Warthogs can reach speeds of up to 30 mph or 48 km per hour and are very nimble on their feet. Although Warthogs are very competent diggers, they usually take over a burrow left by another animal, the aardvark (direct translation is “earth pig”)which is Africa’s ant eater.
Warthogs spend most of their time digging for roots, grass and berries but also eat prey such as small mammals as well as birds. They will even scavenge for carrion when the opportunity presents itself. The spend a lot of time in a kneeling position to feed, this is due to their necks being short and their legs are relatively long by comparison.
The Male warthog is a boar and the female is a sow with young warthogs being called piglets and groups of warthogs are called sounders.
Although warthogs are prolific breeders their numbers are contained by predation with the main predators being lion, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, crocodiles and wild dogs. Their chief means of defense is speed and getting into a defensive position by reversing into a burrow. They are however, very capable fighters with dangerous tusks and a solid body.
During breeding season boar on boar conflict is common as they fight for conjugal rights. In general they are not territorial but do occupy home ranges. Warthogs have a polyandrous mating system with males and females having multiple partners.
Typically a sow’s litter would consist of between two and eight with the norm being between two and four piglets. Warthogs are known to foster other piglets if they lose their own litter. This behavior is termed ‘allosucking’ and makes them co operative breeders.
Gestation period is roughly 150 to 180 days with the piglets spending six to seven weeks in the burrow. Once they venture into the big wide world the mother will nurse the piglets until 21 weeks old at which point they need to fend for themselves. It will take a total of about 18 months for them to reach sexual maturity but will only gain access to females at around 4 years.
They can expect to live up to between 7 and 11 years but have been known to reach 18 years !