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Animal Reference

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Updated: 30 October 2014
(Published: 4 September 2012)


Scientific Name : Phacochoerus africanus sundevallii

Weight (Adult Boar) : +/- 79.6 kg

Weight (Adult Sow) : +/- 56.6 kg

Shoulder Height (Boar) : +/- 68.2 cm

Shoulder Height (Sow) : +/- 59.8 cm


www.leopard.tvThe common warthog Phacochoerus africanus sundevallii of southern Africa was first described scientifically in 1908 by Lönnberg on the basis of a specimen from KwaZulu-Natal. It was once confused with the desert warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus which only occurred in the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, but now is probably extinct. However, Phacochoerus aethiopicus still occurs as a subspecies Phacochoerus aethiopicus delamerei in Kenia, Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. The original generic name for the warthog was Aper but this name is taxonomically invalid as it had already been used by Erxleben in 1777 as a specific epithet synonym for the wild boar Sus scrofa. In 1826 the generic name was changed to Phacochoerus by Cuvier.

An adult warthog boar has a mean weight of 79.6 kg (maximum: 103.9 kg) and stands a mean of 68.2 cm high at the shoulder (maximum: 72.0 cm). An adult sow has a mean weight of 56.5 kg (maximum 69.1 kg) and a mean shoulder height of 59.8 cm (maximum: 65.7 cm).

The general colour is grey with a long brown to yellowish mane. The body is only sparsely coated with hair but there are two well-developed white to cream coloured tufts of hair on the sides of the face at the level of the angle of the lower jaw. 


The boar has four facial warts: a long pair of up to 12 cm below the eyes and a shorter pair just above the snout. The sow only has a short pair (3 cm) of warts below the eyes. The upper tusks are longer than the lower ones, although both pairs are razor sharp and formidable weapons. The longest upper tusks that are on record at Rowland Ward measured 71 cm. In the bushpig the lower tusks are longer than the upper ones but the Rowland Ward record length is only 30 cm.

The warthog prefers open woodland as a habitat and is independent of surface water. It is an omnivore but mainly feeds on short grass.

When feeding close to the ground it goes on to the front knees to reach the food. It seeks cover in burrows, usually old, excavated aardvark burrows.

Warthogs mate seasonally and a sow will mate with various boars when she is in estrus. The boar becomes sexually mature when it is 17 to 18 months old. The sow comes into estrus in May and the gestation period is 164 to 182 days. The piglets are born in an underground burrow that is sometimes lined with grass. The mean litter size is three (maximum eight) and the weight of a newly born piglet varies with the litter size. The sow has two inguinal and two abdominal mammae. Lions will dig warthogs from their burrows, while warthogs can drown in flooded burrows. The maximum known life expectancy is around 17 years, and warthogs rapidly lose physical condition during droughts.



Grubb, P 2005. Order Artiodactyla. In D E Wilson and D M Reeder (Eds), Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference, third edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp 638 – 639.

Skinner, J D and C T Chimimba (Eds) 2005. The mammals of the southern African subregion, third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 551 – 555.

article by: Prof J du P Bothma

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