Warthog | African Wildlife Foundation

Warthogs can survive for
months without water

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Warthog

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Males weigh up to 50 pounds more than females
  • Tusks grow to 10 inches long
  • Can run up to 34 miles per hour

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Phacochoerus aethiopicus

Weight

120 to 250 lb.

Size

30 inches at the shoulder

Life span

15 years

Habitat

Savanna

Diet

Omnivorous

Gestation

6 months

Predators

Lions, leopards, humans, crocodiles, and hyenas

Habitat

Where do warthogs live?

Warthogs are found in moist and arid savannas. They avoid rain forests, deserts, and high mountains.

Tags: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Kilimanjaro, Limpopo, Regional Parc W, Virunga, Zambezi, East Africa, Southern Africa, West/Central Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is a warthog?

The warthog is a tough, sturdy animal. Males weigh 20 to 50 pounds more than females, but both are distinguished by disproportionately large heads and “warts”—thick protective pads that appear on both sides of the head. The warthog's large tusks are unusual: The two upper tusks emerge from the sides of the snout to form a semicircle; the lower tusks, at the base of the uppers, are worn to a sharp-cutting edge. Sparse bristles cover the warthog's body, and longer bristles form a mane from the top of the head down the spine to the middle of the back. The long tail ends with a tuft of bristles. The warthog characteristically carries its tail upright when it runs, the tuft waving like a tiny flag.

Behavior & Diet

The warthog really puts its back into eating.

Warthogs take feeding seriously. They have developed an interesting practice of kneeling on their calloused, hairy, padded knees to eat short grass. The warthog will also use its snout and tusks to dig for bulbs, tubers, and roots during the dry season. During the wet season, they may eat earthworms and other small invertebrates.

Warthogs have a practice of trespassing on others’ homes.

Although they can excavate, warthogs normally use holes dug by other animals, like aardvarks. They sleep and rest in holes. The shelter holes provide is important for warthog thermoregulation—having neither fur nor fat, the warthog lacks both protection from the sun and insulation from cold. Sometimes, warthogs will fill the holes with grass for warmth.

Males prefer a bachelor’s lifestyle—only joining females to mate.

Warthogs live in family groups composed of a female and her young. Sometimes, two families, often of related females, will join together. Males normally live alone, only joining these groups to mate. 

Females have a practice of abandoning their young. 

Before giving birth to a new litter, the female warthog will chase away the litter she has been raising and goes into isolation. These abandoned juveniles may join up with another solitary female for a short time before they go out on their own. The female suckles the new litter, and each piglet has its own teat, suckling exclusively from it. Even if a piglet dies, the others do not suckle from the available teat. As such, litter sizes are usually confined to four young because females only have four teats. 

Gallery
  • Warthog Billy Dodson
  • Warthog Billy Dodson
  • Warthog Nancy Lewis
  • Warthog Billy Dodson
Challenges

Human-wildlife conflict poses a threat to warthogs. 

Warthogs are killed for raiding wheat, rice, beans, or groundnut fields. In some agricultural areas, people are also eliminating warthogs, as they can potentially carry African swine fever. 

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the warthog:

  • Create more protected spaces.

    African Wildlife Foundation works with governments and local communities to designate wildlife corridors—large swaths of land that warthogs and other wildlife can use to roam from one park, or country, to another. Corridors link protected areas and allow warthogs to move between them safely.

  • Engage communities in education and conservation.

    AWF works with rural communities living in close proximity to wildlife to build schools. In exchange for practicing conservation and refraining from such practices as retaliatory killing, communities receive schools with technology labs and conservation curriculums. In Tanzania, AWF rebuilt Manyara Ranch Primary School. By working with communities to provide tangible incentives for conservation and education on the need for conservation, we are able to foster a culture of conservation. 

Projects

Will you show warthogs your support?

With your help, AWF can continue working on critical initiatives like building conservation schools and creating more protected spaces. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the warthog does not become an endangered species. 

  • Land for Livestock
    Balancing the land needs of farmers, herders, and wildlife

    Livestock is a vital livelihood for people in West Africa. So is farming.

    As competition over land and natural resources grows, pressure on protected areas and...

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  • Kitengela Land Conservation
    Protecting habitat and communities near Kenya’s capital

    Human expansion is threatening wildlife outside of Nairobi, Kenya.

    For many years, local Maasai communities, their livestock, and wildlife comfortably shared the open...

    Read more
    All Projects

  • Wildlife Waterholes in Parc W
    Preserving wildlife amidst a drought

    Short rainy season proves disastrous for local fauna. 

    In Regional Parc W, 80% of the more than 30 water points are completely dry by March or April. The regular dry...

    Read more
    All Projects

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