Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Courtship & Mating

Courtship behaviors

  • Male behaviors
    • Smell females' urine to determine reproductive status
    • Fight with other males, during seasonal rut (Child et al. 1968)
      • Butt heads and push to unbalance one's rival
        • Facial warts cushion blows and protect the eyes
      • Lower tusks not used to slash or stab
    • Soliciting partners
      • Struts then pursues the female with a springy, hip-rolling gait; tail out and bent
      • Rests chin on female's back or hind-end

Copulation brief

  • <1 minute

Reproduction

Seasonal reproduction, most common

  • Eastern and Southern Africa(Child et al. 1968)
    • Mate near the end of the wet season (Cumming 2013)
    • Birth coincides with the start of the following rains (Cumming 2013)
  • Year-round reproduction closer to the equator (Cumming 2013)

Estrus

  • Duration (from Estes 1990; Smith 2011)
    • c. 72 hours
    • Cycles every 5-6 weeks
  • Indications of estrus
    • Secretions from the vulva discolor the hind-end of females in estrus (Estes 1990)

Gestation and Birth

Gestation

  • Duration
    • 155-175 days, c. 5.2-5.8 months (Child et al. 1968; Smith 2011)

Birth

  • Seasonal; varies by locality typically
    • Throughout spring (September-December) in Zimbabwe (Child et al. 1968)
    • Summer (November-January) in South Africa (White 2010)
    • Fall (March-June) in Uganda (Plesner-Jensen et al. 1999)
  • Behavior of mother
    • Mother typically leaves the sounder (group) c. 3 weeks prior to parturition and lives alone (Child et al. 1968)
    • Piglets born within a burrow (Child et al. 1968)
  • Litter characteristics
    • Litter size
      • 1-8 piglets/litter; typically 2-4 (Child et al. 1968; Smith 2011)
    • Birth weight (from Cumming 2013)
      • Varies inversely with litter-size
      • In larger litters (3-4): 480-620 g (1.1-1.4 lb)
      • In smaller litters (1-2): 800-850 g (1.8-1.9 lb)

Life Stages

Juveniles/Piglets (<1 yr old)

  • Development
    • Remain in the burrow for 25-50 days after birth (Smith 2011)
    • Suckle unlike domestic piglets (Plesner-Jensen et al. 1999)
      • No teat order
      • Regularly change between nipples
      • Limited synchronized sucking
    • Weaned gradually, typically complete by 21 weeks (Smith 2011)
      • Begin solid foods < 2 months of age (Child et al. 1968)
      • Frequently nurse until 10 weeks of age (Child et al. 1968)
      • Milk similar to that of domestic pigs; 19-20% total solids, 7.3% fats, 7.0% protein, and 3.4% sugars (Child et al. 1968)
        • Colostrum may be higher in protein


Subadult/Yearling (1-2 yr old)

  • Disperse from natal (birth) clans (from White et al. 2010)
    • Males and females leave natal clans and form groups
      • Typically near their area of birth


Adult (>2 yr old)

  • Males/Boars
    • Sexually mature c. 2 years; 26 months (Child et al. 1968)
  • Females/Sows
    • Sexually mature 1-2 years (Child et al. 1968)
      • First reproduce c. 2 years (Child et al. 1968)

Longevity

In managed care

  • Longest lived individual
    • 18 years 7 month (Smith 2011)
  • Typical lifespan
    • Average c. 14 years, both sexes (Smith 2011)

In the wild

  • Seldom reach 12 years of age (Cumming 2013)

Mortality

Predation
Parasites

  • Weaken animals and transmit disease (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)
    • Host to trypanosomes, nematodes, cestodes trematodes, ticks (c. 65 species), fleas, lice, and the tsetse fly (Cumming 2013; Claxton et al. 1992)

Disease (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Viral infections
    • Swine fever - viral hemorrhagic fever
    • Rinderpest
  • Bacterial infections
    • Tuberculosis - bacterial infection that may lead to malnutrition and emaciation (Kalema-Zikusoka et al. 2005)

Human caused mortality (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Hunted for food and tusks
  • Killed to control transmission of disease
    • Large numbers often killed
    • To reduce Ornithodorous moubataticks and tsetse fly populations
      • Tick transmits swine fever to domestic pigs and relapsing fever to humans
      • Fly transmits trypanosomiasis to domestic livestock
  • Live trapped and shot to reduce grazing pressure in some areas (Mason 1985)

Weather

  • Rainfall
    • Totals can greatly impact juvenile recruitment (Mason 1990)
    • Severe drought disproportionately impacts juvenile survival, one study (Mason 1990)

Warthog Piglets

a female Common Warthog and young

Piglets suckle from their mothers for 10 weeks. Weaning is gradual and not complete until nearly 21 weeks of age.

Image credit: © Brian Gratwicke from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Child et al. (1968)
Claxton et al. (1992)
Cumming (1975)
Cumming (2013)
Estes (1990)
Kalema-Zikusoka et al. (2005)
Mason (1985)
Mason (1990)
Plesner-Jensen et al. (1999)
Smith (2011)
White (2010)
White et al. (2010)

SDZG Library Links