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Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) Fact Sheet

a Common Warthog

Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Image credit: © B Dupont from Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla/Cetartiodactyla

Family: Suidae

Subfamily: Suinae

Genus: Phacochoerus

Species: Phacochoerus africanus - Common warthog

Subspecies: P. a. aeliani
Subspecies: P. a. africanus
Subspecies: P. a. massaicus
Subspecies: P. a. sundevallii

Body Weight
Male: 60-150 kg (132-331 lb)
Female: 50-75 kg (110-165 lb)

Head & Body Length
Male: 125-150 cm (4.1-4.9 ft)
Female: 105-140 cm (3.4-4.6 ft)

Tail Length: 35-50 cm (1.1-1.6 ft)

Pelage: Dark-gray or black with minimal body hair; color often obscured by soil and mud picked up in hairs while wallowing. Long mane of yellowish to black hair extends from the nape of the neck across the shoulders and onto the back. 

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Widely found in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Habitat: Prefer open-country; savanna grasslands, open bushlands, and woodlands. Absent from forests, thickets, cool montane grasslands, deserts, and steppes.

IUCN Status: Least Concern (2016 assessment). Widespread and often locally abundant, although no global population estimate and populations in decline across Africa.

CITES Appendix: Not listed; low levels of international trade in live warthogs and warthog products.

Population in Wild: Unknown in many regions. Approximately 22,250 in South Africa.

Locomotion: Trot and run; back rigid, tail and mane held erect. Burst of speed up to 55 km/hr (34 mi/hr).

Activity Cycle: Diurnal. Spend much of the day foraging. Wallow in mud and shelter in burrows to escape mid-day heat. Sleep in burrows at night.

Social Groups: Live alone or in small groups known as sounders. Mothers often share nursing duty, providing care to one another's offspring. 

Diet: Feed mostly on grasses; eat the green shoots when seasonally available and the roots and seeds in drier weather. Also consume fruits, sedges, tubers, and bulbs. Uncommonly scavenge on stomach and intestinal contents at predator kills or chew on old bones. 

Predators: Primary threats are lion and leopard; spotted hyena, cheetah, and African wild dog also prey on young and adults. Lions known to become warthog specialists in some areas.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: c. 2 years, both sexes

Gestation: 155-175 days

Litter Size: 1-8 piglets; typically 2-4

Birth Weight: 480-850 g (1.1-1.9 lb); piglets from larger litters tend to weigh less.

Age at Weaning: Complete by 21 weeks.

Longevity: In managed care: c. 14 yr; longest lived individual > 18 yr. In the wild: seldom reach 12 yr.

Feature Facts

  • Widespread across sub-Saharan Africa
  • Often forage among other ungulates in open grasslands
  • Drop onto the front "knees" to pluck green grasses
  • Tusks often used to dig for roots
  • Warts on skull help to absorb blows during male-male combat
  • Live in small groups
  • Sleep in burrow at night; abandoned burrows used by aardvarks and other animals
  • "Pumbaa" the Warthog made famous in Disney's animated classic, The Lion King; the name "Pumbaa" is derived from a Swahili word that means "silly"
  • Common warthog first housed at the San Diego Zoo in 1926

About This Fact Sheet

© 2015-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor updates to Population & Conservation Apr 2019.

How to cite: Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) Fact Sheet. c2015-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. warthog_common. (note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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