No, not the Big Five! The UGLY five!
The members of this exclusive club are the hyena, the wildebeest, the vulture, the marabou stork and the WARTHOG.
We’ll start with the Warthog in our series.
Why ugly? Well the name says it all. Warts all over! Those funny, wart-like bumps that appear on the sides of the head, below and between the eyes and tusks, and smaller ones near the jaw.
The head is too large for its body. Its face is flat. And the snout is extended. Man, I don’t want to meet one face to face!
Its eyes are set high on the head, to watch for predators, even when it’s grassing.
It also has two sets of tusks. The upper, longer set comes from the sides of the snout and curve towards each other. Used for digging. And the lower tusks, with a sharp edge, at the base of the upper tusks. Used for fighting and self-defence!
Fights between males can be violent and bloody. They use their tusks to fight each other during the mating season. And predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs.
Be careful, should you meet up with a warthog! It will grunt, snort and flatten its ears. Then it will squeal and bolt. Away from you!
More information …
Scientific name: Phacochoerus africanus (part of the pig family)
Size: Medium size animal: 90 – 1.5m (head and body); up to 85cm (shoulder height)
Weight: Female between 45-75kg; males between 60 -150kg
Lifespan: 15 years in the wild
Diet: Grass, bulbs, root and tubers. They eat in a kneeling position.
Habitat: Africa in the moist and arid savannahs
Gestation: 175 days
- Sparse bristles cover the grey to black body, with the longer bristles forming a mane
- The tail is kept upright whilst running; and serves as a signal to keep a family together
- Similar to camels, they can survive for long periods without water. Their higher-than-normal body temperature allows the animal to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling.
- Grooming techniques include: mud baths, sand baths, rubbing against trees and termite mounds and allowing tick birds to pick insects off their bodies
- They live in family groups (called sounders). Females with her young. Males only join during the mating season
- Females usually have four piglets; each with its own teat it feeds from exclusively
- They live in holes dug by other animals i.e. aardvark
- They have poor vision, but very good smell and hearing
- When alarmed, it grunts and snorts, lower its mane, flattens its ears and bolts for the grass