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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Desert Warthog: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Interesting desert warthog facts for kids.

A species of the Suidae family, the desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) consists of two subspecies, the Somali warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus delamerei) and the Cape warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus). The latter became extinct around the 1860s. The desert warthog species is native to east African regions such as central Kenya, western Somalia, and southeastern Ethiopia.

The desert warthog possesses a muscular and large body with a flattened head. The species is generally found either in light brown or dark brown. The average weight of the desert warthog is 99-287 lb (45-130 kg) and the average length is 39-57 in (100-145 cm). Males are quite a bit larger than females, and they even have larger elongated canine teeth. The bodies of warthogs are sparsely covered with spiky hair. Unlike common warthogs, desert warthogs do not have functional incisors. Their distinctive facial warts help to differentiate them from bushpigs and giant hogs.

The species is primarily found in the open arid countryside with scattered trees, savannas, and scrub forests. The warthog is an herbivore and usually feeds on leaves, fruits, bark, wood, and stems. The species occasionally eat insects in the absence of plants too. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the species in the Least Concern category but predation and hunting are a few threats faced by the desert warthog.

Let's read more interesting facts about the desert warthog and if you found this article insightful, don't forget to check out exciting information about different animals like a domestic pig and Merino sheep on Kidadl.

Desert Warthog Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a desert warthog?

The desert warthog is a herbivore animal of the Suidae family, the Cape warthog and the Somali warthog are two subspecies of the desert warthog and the desert warthog's scientific name is Phacochoerus aethiopicus. The species is quite aggressive, unlike domestic pigs.

What class of animal does a desert warthog belong to?

The desert warthog belongs to the class Mammalia, the family Suidae, and the Phacochoerus genus. The order Artiodactyla consists of around 270 land-based even-toed ungulate species such as camels, pigs, deer, giraffes, antelopes, and many more.

How many desert warthogs are there in the world?

The exact population of desert warthogs is not known as of now but the only surviving subspecies, the Somali warthog is found in several east African regions. Also, there are more than 22,000 common warthogs found in South Africa.

Where do desert warthogs live?

Desert warthogs are endemic to east African regions such as central Kenya, western Somalia, and southeastern Ethiopia. The extinct subspecies of Cape warthogs were formerly found in South Africa.

What is a desert warthog's habitat?

Desert warthogs are primarily found in the open arid countryside with scattered trees, in savannas, and in scrub forests. These warthogs can also be spotted near human settlements as they need regular access to waterholes. These animals generally dwell in burrows and come out only for grazing.

Who do desert warthogs live with?

Like other members of the Suidae family, desert warthogs are social animals who prefer to live in groups. Their social groups are known as 'sounders'. These sounders mainly comprise females and their offspring, while males tend to live in solitude and only join the group during the breeding season. Also, the whole group tends to follow the oldest and largest female. Desert warthogs are diurnal but those living near human settlements are more likely to be active during the night.

How long do desert warthogs live?

The average desert warthog lifespan is 10 years, but the species can also live up to 18 years. Due to predation, the mortality rate among juveniles is sadly around 50% per year.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of desert warthogs generally occurs during March and peaks around early April. Warthogs prefer to breed towards the end of the wet season. Desert warthogs follow a polygynandrous mating system in which males and females both breed with multiple partners. Once females become pregnant, they stop mating.

Before mating, females generally urinate quite frequently to attract males and the urine helps to determine the reproductive state of females. Males, on the other hand, are solitary but come together with females during the breeding season only. Females go through an estrous or heat cycle that lasts for 72 hours and occurs every six weeks. During this period, the color of their hindquarters changes. The gestation period lasts for around six to seven months and around two to three piglets are born after this, generally between the months of August and December.

Males leave the group after the breeding season and only the females are involved in parenting. They feed the piglets and teach them skills such as alarm calls to avoid predation in the future. The weaning period lasts for around three months but it generally takes around a year for desert warthog piglets to become fully matured. The juveniles usually follow their mother, using her for shade and protection. These babies generally enter the burrows before their mothers. Unlike the common warthog, the desert warthog becomes sexually mature at an early age.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the desert warthog in the Least Concern category. But the population of these warthogs has been declining constantly due to hunting, a loss of habitat, and predation. As hunting is escalating, desert warthogs have changed their accustomed lifestyle and now often act like nocturnal animals. Desert warthogs found in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are protected and generally face no major threats. It is also said that due to the competition at waterholes with other animals, the number of desert warthogs is slowly reducing.

Desert Warthog Fun Facts

What do desert warthogs look like?

The desert warthog (P. aethiopicus) possesses a muscular and large body with a flattened head. They are generally found either with light brown or dark brown coloring. The bodies of these warthogs are sparsely covered with white-colored spiky hair. Males generally have larger tusks compared to females. In juveniles, their tusks appear once they hit puberty. Unlike the common warthog, the desert warthog (P. aethiopicus) does not have functional incisors. Their distinctive facial warts help to differentiate these animals from bushpigs and giant hogs.

These rare desert warthog facts would make you love them.

How cute are they?

Unlike pigs, people may not find adult desert warthogs cute but their piglets are quite adorable. Piglets generally remain close with their mother all the time and rarely come out of the burrows. They often hide behind their mothers on a sunny day.

How do they communicate?

Like other species of the Suidae family, desert warthogs primarily use the sense of smell as a medium of communication. Males generally mark their territory with urine while females use their urine to attract males during their estrous cycle. These animals also produce several warning calls that are used to avoid predation and to alert other members of their group. A variety of social displays are used to indicate dominance and submissiveness. Males generally fight with their snouts and tusks to establish dominance and power over other males.

How big is a desert warthog?

The average weight of a desert warthog (P. aethiopicus) is 99-287 lb (45-130 kg) and the average length of this species of warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) is 39-57 in (100-145 cm). The average desert warthog height is around 30 in (76 cm). The species is twice the size of a Juliana pig and some of these warthogs are even bigger than mountain goats.

How fast can a desert warthog run?

The desert warthog primarily relies on its speed to avoid predation. The desert warthog generally runs faster than many other warthog species and can easily reach a speed of 34 mph (55 kph) while finding its burrow. During predation, an adult warthog generally defends itself with the help of its tusks as well as its fast speed.

How much does a desert warthog weigh?

The average desert warthog weight is around 99-287 lb (45-130 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male warthogs are called 'boars', while the term 'sows' is used to refer to female desert warthogs. A male desert warthog possesses larger warts and tusks than a female warthog.

What would you call a baby desert warthog?

People often refer to the babies of desert warthogs as piglets. Among piglets, tusks start to appear with the arrival of puberty. Also, they have much smaller facial warts than adults.

What do they eat?

The species is a herbivore and the typical desert warthog diet includes flowers, fruits, leaves, bark, and stems. These mammals also eat insects and the flesh of dead animals when the availability of plants eat as food is low. They often get preyed upon by lions and hyenas, but they can grunt or fight to defend themselves.

Are they dangerous?

Desert warthogs generally remain in groups and avoid social interactions with humans, but these animals are known for hurting their predators including cheetahs, leopards, and even lions. They generally raise their tail at a time of danger. When someone tries to approach their territory or to threaten any juveniles, adult warthogs use their sharp tusks to protect themselves and the tusks can easily cause severe damage or wounds to predators.

Would they make a good pet?

Generally, people do not consider desert warthogs as pets due to their unpredictable nature. Unlike domestic pigs, warthogs are not docile and are not well-adapted to live with humans and other animals. Also, it is not allowed to keep these animals in captivity as their population is constantly declining primarily due to human activities such as hunting.  

Did you know...

A species of the Suidae family, the common warthog consists of four subspecies, the Nolan warthog, the Eritrean warthog, the southern warthog, and the Central African warthog.

The extinct subspecies, the Cape warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus) was found in southeastern parts of Cape Province and Province of Natal.

Warthogs do not dig their own burrows and generally steal these from other animals such as aardvarks.

The bodies of these animals are covered with mud as this protects them from both the sun and parasites.

Can warthogs kill humans?

Generally, warthogs are not regarded as aggressive animals as they prefer to maintain a distance from humans but if someone tries to come close to them or their juveniles, these warthogs will attack with their sharp and long tusks and their elongated canine teeth. This can cause severe wounds and can sometimes lead to death. It is always advised not to provoke these animals.

Why are they called warthogs?

The genus name, 'Phacochoerus' is a combination of two Greek words, 'phakos' and 'khoiros'. The meaning of the terms are 'mole' and 'hog' respectively, hence the use of the name 'warthog'. These warthogs are best known for their distinctive facial warts. Males possess larger warts compared to females while piglets have much reduced warts.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our blue wildebeest facts and highland cattle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cartoon pig coloring pages.

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