What Do Warthogs Eat? Feeding Tips And Habits For Common Warthogs

Tanya Parkhi
Mar 24, 2023 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Nov 22, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
Common Warthog in the wild.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

The warthog (scientific name Phacochoerus africanus) is a member of the swine family in the kingdom Animalia.

Warthogs are called so because of the wart-like bumps protruding from the sides of their faces. They are also known for their two pairs of tusks, possessing a set of upper tusks as well as lower ones, which help them to protect themselves from predators.

Warthogs live only in sub-Saharan Africa, and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They sustain themselves on a diet of grasses, fruits, bulbs, and roots.

Warthogs eat insects and carrion as well, which means that they are omnivores rather than herbivorous in nature, however, this is quite rare. As they live in a dry climate, these animals can survive for months on end without water, as they draw moisture into their bodies from the leaves and grasses they consume.

For more amazing warthog facts, read on!

If you enjoy this article, you may also like our pages on what sharks eat and what oysters eat.

Are warthogs carnivorous?

No, though they may look quite scary with their two sets of tusks, warthogs are actually mostly herbivorous in nature! Similar to other members of the pig family, the majority of their diet consists of grass, as they are grazing animals.

However, they are also seen to feed on various roots, berries, fruits, tubers, and soft bark. You may also see them wreaking havoc among farmers' crops, eating their way through the grains!

Though they are herbivores, there are some instances where they are known to eat the decaying meat off of dead animals they find. They are also noticed eating insects such as worms and other invertebrates which come up during the rainy season.

Hence, we cannot really call them true herbivores, but rather omnivores because of their opportunistic feeding habits. Though they eat meat, they do not hunt for it like true carnivores do, rather coming across it on their foraging expeditions.

They are also observed eating the droppings of other animals such as buffaloes and rhinos to retain nitrogen in their value. They feed on bones and dirt as well to take in nutrients and calcium into their bodies, which may not be available through their vegetation-based diet.

Their digestive systems have adapted well to take in their varied diet, and teeth can be used to chew grass as well as tear the flesh off of animal carcasses.

What do warthogs eat in captivity?

Since warthogs are herbivorous in nature, they are fed a well-balanced diet of grains, roots, and vegetables. They are usually fed grain pellets, sweet potatoes, yams, broccoli, carrots, nutrition-filled herbivore cubes, squash, special grass, and alfalfa hay and grain pellets.

Warthogs are social animals, and if kept in captivity, must be kept in pairs or groups. Female warthogs, called sows, are usually more inclined to interact with each other and can be found living in large groups called sounders, which consist of their young as well.

They also forage together in these groups when out in the wild. Females live together in dens, however rather than making their own dens, they move into abandoned ones left behind by aardvarks and other burrowing animals.

During the mating season, solitary boars meet up with the sows and fight each other to impress a mate. After the season is over, the boars go back to living on their own until the next one comes around. Females abandon their young quite early as well, prompting them to become independent at an early age.

The desert warthog.

What do warthogs eat in the wild?

Warthogs inhabit sub-Saharan Africa, meaning they have to deal with a lot of dry conditions.

The common warthog (also known as the southern warthog) can be found living in the savannas and feeds on mostly grass, berries, roots, fruits, and bulbs. It has quite a wide range and is found over almost the entire continent of Africa.

The desert warthog, found in Kenya and Somalia, lives in open areas where very thin vegetation is present. This species usually stays closer to desert villages so that they get regular access to waterholes.

Older female warthogs lead the foraging missions, and they search for grass, leaves, fruits, and tubers to feed on.

Similar to the common warthog, desert warthogs use their snouts and wrists to dig up roots and bulbs and use their tusks to scrape the bark off trees to feed on. As they are herbivores, they do not eat reptiles like snakes and lizards, nor insects.

As warthogs live in fairly open areas and are an abundant species, this makes them easy prey for many carnivores.

Some warthog predators are leopards, crocodiles, hyenas, cheetahs, and lions. They use their sharp tusks to dig through the ground, as well as as a defense mechanism to scare off predators, and their legs are much more developed than other swine, which helps them to escape, reaching speeds of over 34 mph (55 kph).

However, these boars are most sought after by hunters, who catch them for their lean, delicious meat.

What do warthogs eat in the savanna?

Warthogs are actually the only pig species that have evolved to survive in the parching grasslands of Africa. They are grazing animals, and they use their hairy, padded knees and wrists as cushioning as they kneel down to graze. They use their feet and snouts to dig out roots and bulbs from the ground.

Warthogs prefer living in savannas, as it is quite easy for them to forage and find shelter among the grasslands. Depending on the season their diets may vary slightly.

Africa is notorious for its dry season, where food is quite scarce and difficult to come by for wild animals. During this period warthogs sustain themselves on root vegetables, tubers, roots, and bulbs.

They may also resort to feeding on carrion as well as the eggs of birds and reptiles if they are unable to find food during this period. Despite this, they are not hunters and feed only by foraging.

During the wet season, the savannahs are covered with short, perennial grass, which sustains the warthogs. They also feed on tender bark, fruits, berries, and fungi during this period.

The rainy season may bring out worms and other insects from the ground, which they feed on as well while grazing through the grasslands.

Warthogs survive quite well during the dry season and can go for months without drinking water, sustaining themselves on the moisture found in fruits and bulbs. Unfortunately, they do not have sweat glands, and hence have to roll around in the mud in order to cool themselves off.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what warthogs eat then why not take a look at what tree frogs eat or warthog facts.

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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