Red river hogScientific Name Potamochoerus porcus              

Conservation Status Least Concern

Appearance

The barrel like body of the red river hog is covered with a coat of rusty red fur. Running down the spine is a spine of white fur. This can also be found in rings around the yes and on the checks and jaws. Their muzzle and face are coloured back. On their flanks the fur hangs down as it is longer than on the rest of the body. On top of the ears are tufts of fur. Males can be distinguished due to lumps which are above their eyes.

Males are slightly larger than females. They also have small yet sharp tusks. On average an adult weighs 45-115kg (99-254lb) and are 55-80cm (22-31in) tall at the shoulder. From the head to the start of the tail they are 100-145cm (39-57in) long. Their tail adds 30-45cm (12-18in) to this length.

Lifespan                                                                                  

Red river hogs live for around 20 years.

Diet

This species is omnivorous. The majority of their diet is made up of roots and wild fruits. They will supplement this portion of their diet with grasses, berries, seeds, water plants, bulbs and nuts. Some animal prey such as carrion, small mammals, young birds, eggs, snails, reptiles and insects are also hunted. On occasion they will take domestic livestock including goats and sheep. One interesting part of their diet is seeds some of which they obtain from the feces of elephants.

To find food they use their snout which is highly sensitive and can identify what is edible by touch and smell. This is then used to dig up the food.

Habitat

Africa is the native home of the red river hog. Here they can be found throughout Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Uganda.

They make their home in forests, thickets in savannahs, riverine habitats, swamps and steppes. It is Red river hogcommon for them to gather around a human settlement.

Reproduction

Breeding takes place from September to April. Males lead a group of four to five females with which they will breed.

120-127 days after a successful mating one to four piglets will be born. The female leaves her group for a short time and constructs a “bower” in the long grass in which they are born. At birth young piglets are coloured brown with yellow stripes running the length of their body. Soon after birth they will return to the group.

Sexual maturity is achieved at three years of age.

Behavior

Family groups will make sure to avoid each other. When they encounter one another they engage in ritualized threat displays and will occasionally fight the other group. Fights involve males butting heads and whipping each other. When threatened they will fluff out their face hair. Groups may consist of Red river hogbetween four and twenty individuals.

Red river hogs have a nocturnal activity pattern. During the day they sleep in dense brush. They take off at sunset to find their food. Often they can be found wallowing in streams and ponds. They are also good swimmers.

Predators of the red river hog include lions, hyenas and pythons. They are not defenseless though and adults have been known to scare leopards back into a tree.

Quick facts

A group of red river hogs is known as a ‘drift’, ’herd’ or ‘sounders.’

The large ears and mane running down their back serves to make them look larger to predators.

Photo Credits:

Top By C-8 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Middle By Ltshears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom By Mark Evans from Alton, USA (Red River Hog Uploaded by berichard) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons