There are some truly great characters of the African wilderness and in my opinion, none more so than the humble warthog! These gorgeous, yes I said gorgeous, animals are always a treat to see when on safari at Tanda Tula Safari Camp. I always like to remark to my guests when viewing them, that if this species doesn’t make you laugh or at least smile, then there has got to be something wrong with you! Look out for them at the lodge during the winter months when our delicious manicured lawn entices their taste buds beyond control.
In honour of these very special animals here are 10 interesting facts about them…
1. Contrary to popular belief they do not cruise around the bush with a small meerkat singing at the top of their lungs, however, this is easy to imagine.
2. They do however, cruise around the bush at break neck speeds! Often reaching over 40km per hour, possibly reaching 48km per hour. That’s faster than Usain Bolt!
3. Of course, this speed is greatly needed when you form a very integral part of the food chain. All manner of predators from lions to hyenas to leopards are interested in eating the poor pigs.
4. Luckily, they are equipped with a bit of weaponry to deal with such encounters though. Warthog’s, like elephants, have tusks and these tusks can be instrumental when warding off predators. Now this may sound a bit far fetched but when you put 50-125kg (100lbs-250lbs) of angry pig behind them, they become fairly deadly.
5. As a last resort, or a first resort, depending they will bolt down underground and into their burrows to evade the predator. These burrows are usually repossessed aardvark holes that the warthogs excavate to their liking. They prove to be excellent hide outs, but this doesn’t stop predators from attempting to wait them out. I have seen leopards fall asleep right outside these burrows waiting for the pigs to the show themselves. Only to be woken by a large dust cloud and the sight of a warthog running away with all its fury!
6. And this is where that famous “tail straight up in the air” comes from. Many animals have what we call a “follow me” sign and this happens to be the warthogs. This is an involuntary reaction to excitement and is supposedly there in order to help members of the sounder or youngsters maintain visual contact with each other or their mom during dangerous and high paced situations.
7. The fun with this species doesn’t stop there though and so lets move onto their own eating habits. Warthogs are not the aggressive hunting and meat-eating creatures that some believe them to be. They are however omnivorous.
8. This means that they eat both vegetable matter and meat but the vast, vast majority of the time they are more than happy to just eat grass, roots and fruits with the occasional insect, lizard or spot of carrion.
9. Warthogs have an eating stance, whereby they get right down on their haunches by folding in their front feet, that has literally come about in order to get them closer to the food in a more comfortable manner. This is a very a cute thing to see! Keep a look out for it when you are on safari as it is bound to make you smile.
10. To top off their eating habits they have also learnt to make use of their rather flattened nose. This tough facial feature helps them dig up roots, move branches to get to tasty things underneath and as an added benefit it helps them tremendously with their burrow excavating endeavours.
The above list is but a fraction of the information available on this iconic species but you’ll have to come on safari to learn more! I didn’t touch on why they are named Warthogs and so I thought I may pose the question to you! If you know why they have attained this name, then please let us know in the comments below.