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Warthog

Warthogs..............................Phacochoerus africanus
 
The Common Warthog is most appropriately named because it is the most common sight here on Okonjima, and sometimes the most comical too, whether it be a line of "grey aerials", decreasing in size, moving rapidly through the grass or a side step dance between opponents! Usually one sees two or three females with their piglets together and the only way of knowing how many piglets each mother has is to count the enlarged teats as, generally, each piglet has its own teat.
 
 
warthog africat-1
 
The scenario changes when mating season arrives as then the large dominant males leave their solitary life or their exclusive Men's Club to join the females for a few weeks.
 
The males are much larger than the females (+/- 80 kg compared to +/- 50 kg) and stand about 10 cm taller at the shoulder. They have bigger tusks as well, especially the upper pair, which can grow to a record length of 60.9cm. Males also have an extra pair of warts lower down on the cheeks, and from behind there is no mistaking their sex!
 
 warthog okonjima
Warthogs have well-developed side whiskers which are long and white, presumably to resemble tusks. They also have a line of coarse dark brown or black hair along their neck and back. This can be raised if it is necessary to appear more ferocious. Warthogs have short legs and enlarged heads, so another very characteristic sight is to see them kneeling, which places their snouts comfortably on the ground for foraging. They are primarily grass eaters, including the roots, but also eat fruit and berries if they fall to the ground, as well as occasionally enjoying insects and even carrion. As their wrinkled grey skin is sparsely covered in bristles, warthogs love to wallow in mud both as a cooling mechanism and to assist in removing parasites.
 
Warthogs prefer open grasslands but are fairly widespread. They live in burrows, usually old aardvark burrows, which they enlarge to accommodate all the family members. As a means of self defence an adult warthog will always reverse into its burrow. Beware when out walking not to peer into an active burrow from the front in case the inhabitant comes shooting out like a rocket!

  
 warthog sleeping-africat
 
Breeding season and litter size vary with locality. On Okonjima it appears to mainly coincide with the rainy season and the average number of piglets is 3. Gestation is around five and half months. Small warthogs are very susceptible to changes in temperature as well as food shortages. They are also easy prey (and can a piggy squeak when caught!) even though their mothers can be fearless guardians. Consequently infant mortality is high.
 
Adult warthogs are generally only caught by lions and hyenas because their tusks can inflict nasty wounds and they are not afraid of using them if threatened.
 
Did you know that a group of warthogs are referred to as a sounder?    
 
 
 
 

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