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Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding


Graminivores (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Feed almost exclusively on grasses
    • Consume up to 34 species of grass (Cumming 1975)
  • Shoots, roots, and seeds eaten seasonally
    • Green shoots preferred; most prolific in rainy seasons
    • Rhizome (rootstalks) eaten during long dry seasons, lasting 7-8 months in southern Africa
    • Seeds available towards the end of the rainy season

Occasional foot items (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Fruits, sedges, tubers, and bulbs
    • Fruits may enable population survival in extremely arid regions (de Jong and Butynski 2014)
    • Doum palm (Hyphaene thebaica) fruits thought to be critical for persistence of common warthogs in Kenya (de Jong and Butynski 2014)

Scavenge animal remains (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Uncommon
    • Feed on stomach and intestinal contents at predator kills in Masai Mara National Reserve (Radke 1985)
    • Chew on old bones, as do many ungulates (Cumming 1975)

Ingest soil and feces (Cumming 1975)

Agricultural pests

  • Raid rice and peanut crops
    • Common in Guinea-Bissau and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Vercammen and Mason 1993)

Feeding & Drinking

Feeding techniques (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Pluck green grasses, when available
    • Primary method of food intake in regions sufficient precipitation to support year-round growth
    • Often drop onto the front "knees" to graze and root (Estes 1990; Meijaard et al. 2011)
    • Strip grass seed heads using incisor teeth (Meijaard et al. 2011)
  • Root for rhizomes
    • Snout and hooves break open hard ground; never use tusks (Cumming 2013; Meijaard et al. 2011)
    • Excavate shallow, rounded depressions (Cumming 1975)

Drinking (from Cumming 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Drink from rivers, lakes, and puddles
  • Ingest moisture rich foods
    • Consume fruit to survive in locations that lack drinking water for several months each year (de Jong and Butynski 2014)

Warthogs Eat Grasses

A Common Warthog eating

Though omnivorous, warthogs primarily feed on grass stems, roots, and seeds. They often drop down on their front "knees" to eat and may walk around in this way while feeding in an area. Click here to watch a short video of warthogs feeding.

Image credit: © Steve Garvie from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Cumming (1975)
Cumming (2013)
de Jong and Butynski (2014)
Estes (1990)
Meijaard et al. (2011)
Radke (1985)
Vercammen and Mason (1993)

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