The Common Warthog

The Common Warthog is one of Africa’s most loved animals and an exceptionally charismatic animals that is easy to spot on your game drive through the African bushveld.

The warthog is a member of the Swine family and is related to other species such as pigs, boars, hogs, and Bush pigs. 

Geographical Range:
The Common Warthog’s geographical range includes much of Sub Saharan Africa and extends from South Africa to towards Sudan and as far west as Senegal.

Warthogs are found in almost every biome in Sub Saharan Africa with the exception of dense jungle biomes and extremely dry desert biomes. They are chucky hardy hogs that can survive pretty much anywhere as long as they have a source of water and plants to graze on. They live in grasslands and bushveld. In areas where aardvarks are present, they will make use of the holes made by them and use them as their dens to spend the night. They use these dens to escape from the freezing cold nights and the blistering heat of midday. 

A Common Warthog grazing on green grass.

Females Warthogs, called sows live in small groups which are called sounders. The males are solitary and spend most of their time foraging alone. Sows can create sounders of up to 40 warthogs. Warthogs spend most of their day grazing and sleep at night. Unlike the Bushpig which spends the night time foraging for food and sleeps during the day.

Sows will also use these dens to raise their young. Female Warthogs have litters of 3 to 4 young which they suckle for around 4 months. Warthogs are seasonal breeders and have a gestation period of about 6 months. Baby warthogs are called piglets and weigh 450 to 900 grams at birth. Warthog Sows will wean their piglets for 4 months before they are able to feed on their own. Warthogs reach sexual maturity relatively quickly and are mature at a year and a half of age.  Females will stick with their mothers, and the baby males once mature will spread out in search for females and their own territory. 

Warthogs prefer the flight over fight tactic, and will run away at the first sign of danger. Although Warthogs may look a bit on the plump side, they are a lot faster than they appear and are able to run at more than 40kmph. Even though the Warthog’s first defense is normally to run away. They are also very capable of standing their ground and are not scared to fight back, even when they are attacked by big predators. Their main predators include lions, leopards, humans, crocodiles and hyenas.

Warthogs are well known for their aerial-like tails that point straight up into the air when they walk. 

Warthogs also have strong tusks which are really just large canine teeth which continue to grow throughout their lives. They have 2 large upper tusks which can be 25 to 30 cm long. They also have 2 smaller tusks on their lower jaws. 

Warthogs get their name from the bumps on their faces that look like warts. These large  bumps that grow out from underneath the warthog’s eyes and two smallers ones just above their tusks. These appendages are made of tissue and not bone. These thick bumps are not warts but patches of thick skin and provide protection for the warthog during fights. 

The Warthog is a very common species in Sub Saharan Africa and are often seen spending much of their day at their local waterhole or in open grasslands grazing and foraging.

Size and lifespan:
Warthogs are medium sized pig species that are around 60 centimetres tall. Females weigh around 60kgs whereas males are quite larger and can weigh 60 – 150 kgs. Warthogs can live for 15 to 20 years.

The Warthog is the only species of pig that has evolved into a grazing species.  They are omnivorous and feed on grasses, roots, berries, fruits, fungi, insects, bark and carrion. In the wet seasons Warthogs will graze on green grass and in the dry seasons will spend more of their time looking for bulbs, truffles, rhzomes, and roots. Warthogs are master diggers and are able to use both their snouts and feet to dig holes. The warthog is an excellent sniffer and they use their snouts to find tasty things to eat.

The warthog is well known for its habitat of kneeling on the ground while grazing and will even choose to move around on their knees instead of getting up and walking. They have callus pads on their knees to walk one and these are even present on baby warthogs while they are still in the womb.

Conservation Status:
The conservation status of Warthogs is listed as of least concern as their populations are very wide spread throughout Africa and are able to see in many different habitats. Today in the wild there are around 250,000 Warthogs in Southern Africa and their numbers are decreasing. The biggest threat to Warthogs is habitat transformation and poaching.

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Robert Wedderburn