African Savanna

Location in Zoo

African Savanna
25-33 inches
25-33 inches
3-4.8 feet
2.4-3.8 feet
130-330 lbs.
110-260 lbs.

17-19 months
17-19 months

Geographic Range

Africa, from below the Sahara to South Africa

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Phacochoerus africanus

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Activity Time Frame:
Sexual Dimorphism:
6 months
Lifespan in the Wild:
12 years
Lifespan in Captivity:
18 years


Over Consumption


These unusual pigs have a barrel-shaped body, a big, wide head ornamented with six facial warts, and huge curved canine tusks. Height is 25-33', length is 57-74' and weight is 110-330 lbs. The skin warts are behind and below the eye, between the corner of the mouth and the eye, and at the side of the lower jaw. In males they grow into cone-shaped protuberances while they are much smaller in females. Grayish-brown in color, a distinct reddish mane is present on the neck and the back and often there is a white beard on the cheeks. The tail has a tassel; otherwise, they are sparsely haired.

Species Specifics

The clearest morphological trait that separates desert warthogs from common warthogs is the lack of functional incisors. These two species are quite distinct genetically and common warthogs are usually slightly larger than desert warthogs. Desert warthogs are distinguishable from closely related bush pigs and giant hogs by their distinctive facial warts and larger tusks.

Physical Characteristics

The warthog moves on the wrists while searching for food; wide calluses have developed on the wrists as an adaptation to this type of locomotion.- Although they must lower their heads while grazing they are able to see over a much larger area.



Savannah, light bush and grass steppes


Savanna, light bush and grass steppes of Africa below the Sahara to South Africa. Desert warthogs are found in the Horn of Africa, in central and eastern Kenya, western Somalia, and southeastern Ethiopia. They were also known from South Africa, but are now extinct there.


Mostly herbivorous. Different kinds of grass, but may sometimes eat berries and the bark of young trees. During drought they eat bulbs, roots and carrion.

Ecological Web

Omnivorous. Primary Consumer. Diet mainly consists of different kinds of grass, but may sometimes eat berries and the bark of young trees. During drought they eat bulbs, roots and carrion. All warthogs consume large amounts of grass and may influence plant communities through their foraging. Their ability to take and use the burrows of other animals (such as aardvarks) has a negative ecological impact on those species.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Diurnal. They are active only during the day; as soon as the sun sets, they retreat into their dens (often abandoned aardvark dens) and do not leave until dawn.Warthogs may use up to 10 different burrows when moving throughout their home range, ensuring that one is always nearby if they are threatened.


Since they have no insulation from hair or subcutaneous fat they are vulnerable to cold and damp, especially the young; thus they need deep burrows which have sometimes been seen to be lined with grass. Resting in the shade and mud baths are used

Social Behavior

Except during the rutting season, they live in small groups of usually one or two related females and their young. During the day adult boars may join these groups but generally boars stay by themselves.

Reproductive Behavior

During the mating period, female desert warthogs urinate quite frequently, up to 10 times more than males. Male warthogs can smell the urine from a significant distance and will investigate the urine to determine female reproductive state.The timing of desert warthogs mating is in part determined by climate. They inhabit areas with distinct dry and rainy seasons and tend to breed towards the end of the wet season, (peaking around early April.)The den is not only a hiding and resting place, but also a nursery. Males generally contribute very little to parenting as they more or less leave the group after mating season. Therefore, females must both provide food for the offspring as well as teach them how to find food and avoid predation.


She gives birth to an average of three young/year. Young are sensitive to cold and heat and remain in the den for the first few days, with their mother returning to nurse around noon and then again at sunset. After a week they leave on short excursions and with increasing age, return only at night to the den. Piglets start grazing at 2-3 weeks and are weaned by 6 months. Offspring follow the mother wherever she goes, suckling as much as every 40 minutes, using her as shade from the hot sun, and sometimes using her feces as a food source.



Not endangered. Desert warthogs are not considered threatened, as they have a large distribution and are adaptable. However, populations are considered in decline and face continued threats through human persecution in the form of hunting and competition for foraging habitat with domestic livestock.


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Fascinating Facts

Group members greet after a separation with explosive grunts and nose-to-nose contact.

They also social groom, which may include stripping the long mane hair through the lips or incisors. To solicit grooming, one warthog lies prone before another.

A group of pigs is called a sounder.