They’re not the prettiest of animals, but warthogs are remarkable creatures. As their name suggests, warthogs are a type of pig with bumps on their faces which resemble very large warts. These ‘warts’ are a good way to tell male warthogs from females – males have four and females only two.
Apart from their appearance, warthogs are remarkable in other ways. They live in Africa’s grasslands where it can get very hot. But the warthog has adapted well to this environment and can dwell in places which receive little water for months at a time. It does this by allowing its body temperature to rise (something which would kill most mammals) and so does not waste any water in the form of sweat to cool itself down.
A warthog’s face is flat, with a long snout and eyes positioned at the top. This gives the warthog a good view of the surroundings, and any approaching predators, even when it is feeding. They will eat almost anything, from grass to small mammals, and this helps them to survive in such a harsh environment.
They also have tusks – four of them, which can grow to 25cm long. These they use to dig tasty bulbs and tubers out from the ground but they also make formidable weapons. Males use their tusks in fights with other males and warthogs will often stand up to animals that try to eat them. Many a predator has rued its decision to hunt a warthog!
They do have many predators, including crocodiles, leopards, lions and cheetahs but the warthog’s biggest foe is the human. We’ve hunted them since time immemorial, not only for their meat but also the ivory from their tusks. In addition, warthogs (understandably) will sometimes raid farmers’ fields. Because of this the farmers will try to kill any warthogs they find near their land. With the spread of farmland in order to feed our growing population, this means that warthogs are having a hard time.
Thankfully, as yet, warthogs are not endangered (as so many animals are). But things could well change in the future. Action is being taken to protect the warthog. The African Wildlife Federation is working to create protected areas for them which will, hopefully, help to save these un-pretty pigs