|Copyright: Natley Prinsloo (Mamagolo2)
|Date Taken: 2010-05-19|
|Exposure: f/8, 1/320 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2010-06-27 7:31|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
Neither graceful nor beautiful, warthogs are nonetheless remarkable animals. They are found in most of Africa south of the Sahara and are widely distributed in East Africa. They are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months of the year. By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog is perhaps able to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling. (Camels and desert gazelles have developed a similar mechanism for survival in hot, arid environments.)
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 ones 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, although 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.
Warthogs are found in moist and arid savannas. They avoid rainforest, deserts and high mountains.
Warthogs live in family groups of a female and her young. Sometimes two families, often of related females, will join together. Males normally live by themselves, only joining the groups to mate.
Warthogs sleep and rest in holes. Although they can excavate, warthogs normally use those dug by other animals, like aardvarks. The shelter a hole provides 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 line their holes with grass, probably to make them warmer.
Before giving birth to a new litter, the female chases away the litter she has been raising and secludes herself. These juveniles may join up with another solitary female for a short time before they go on their own.
Female warthogs only have four teats, so litter sizes usually are confined to four young. Each piglet has its "own" teat and suckles exclusively from it. Even if one piglet dies, the others do not suckle from the available teat. Although the young are suckled for about 4 months, after 2 months they get most of their nourishment from grazing.
The warthog is mainly a grazer and has adapted an interesting practice of kneeling on its calloused, hairy, padded knees to eat short grass. Using its snout and tusks, it also digs for bulbs, tubers and roots during the dry season. They may eat earthworms and other small invertebrates during the wet season.
Predators and Threats
Outside of protected areas, the warthog’s range is declining. They are killed for raiding wheat, rice, bean or groundnut fields. People in some agricultural areas also eliminate warthogs as they can carry African swine fever.
Did You Know?
• The warthog has poor vision (though better than most other African wild pigs), but its senses of smell and hearing are good.
• When alarmed, the warthog grunts or snorts, lowers its mane, flattens its ears and bolts for underground cover.
Source: African Wildlife Foundation
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