Photo: Portrait of a warthog

Although warthogs look fierce, they are actually herbivores who prefer to flee rather than fight.

Photograph by Chris Johns

Map

Map: Warthog range

Warthog Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Herbivore
Average life span in the wild:
15 years
Size:
Height at shoulder, 30 in (76 cm)
Weight:
120 to 250 lbs (54.5 to 113 kg)
Group name:
Sounder
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Warthog compared with adult man

Warthogs are members of the same family as domestic pigs, but present a much different appearance. These sturdy hogs are not among the world's most aesthetically pleasing animals—their large, flat heads are covered with "warts," which are actually protective bumps. Warthogs also sport four sharp tusks. They are mostly bald, but they do have some sparse hair and a thicker mane on their backs.

Though warthogs appear ferocious, they are basically grazers. They eat grasses and plants, and also use their snouts to dig or "root" for roots or bulbs. When startled or threatened, warthogs can be surprisingly fast, running at speeds of up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) an hour.

Warthogs are adaptable and are able to go long periods without water, as much as several months in the dry season.

When water is available, warthogs will seek it and often submerge to cool down. They will also wallow in mud for the same purpose—and to gain relief from insects. Birds also aid these hogs in their battle with insects; oxpeckers and other species sometimes ride along on their warthog hosts, feeding on the tiny creatures invading their hides.

These African hogs often utilize empty dens created by aardvarks. Rather than fight, they often choose flight, and search for such a den to use as a hidey-hole. They typically back in, using their tusks to effectively guard the entrance.

Warthogs also use these dens to have their young. Females have litters of four or fewer young, which they suckle for about four months.

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