Conservation Education and Science
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Wart Hog
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Phacoschoerus aethiopicus
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Suidae
RANGE: Central and southern Africa
HABITAT: Savannah and lightly forested areas
DIET: Grasses, roots, berries, bark and occasionally carrion

The wart hog stands two feet at the shoulder and weighs 100-to-200 pounds. The skin and hair are dark brown. A thin mane runs from nape to mid-back, broken by a bare spot, and then continues on the rump. Bristles cover the remainder of the body. The face is long, with protruding tusks and fleshy warts, more prominent on the male. Warts have no bony support; they are located in areas sensitive to injury, such as eyes and nose and cushion blows to the face when fighting. Vocalizations used for greeting, contact, threats and submission include growls, grunts, snorts and squeals.

One or two sows and their young travel in groups, called sounders; the adult male travels alone. The wart hog uses natural holes, or ones made by aardvarks, to sleep, rear young and find refuge from predators. When entering, the animal backs in, the better to confront a pursuer. Fierce looking, the wart hog generally would rather run than fight, but, if cornered, can inflict severe wounds with its formidable tusks. In the mornings, the animal runs out its burrow at top speed, probably to get a running start on any lurking predator. When feeding, the wart hog drops on its padded wrists. The animal spends much time in mud wallows; the mud cools the body and provides a barrier to biting insects and the sun.

At mating time, males engage in ritualized battles, pushing and striking with the blunt upper tusks. The female gives birth to two or three offspring after a gestation of 170 days. The young, temporarily driven away when the female is ready to bear a new litter, may subsequently rejoin the family. Males separate from their mother at 15 months of age; females stay, usually in permanent association. Birds, such as the yellow hornbill, eat parasites off the wart hog’s body; both benefit from the symbiotic relationship, which provides the bird with a constant source of food and frees the wart hog of its parasites.