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The warthog’s unsightly appearance makes it one of the most unusual animals roaming the grasslands of Africa. When protecting its family, the warthog will ferociously defend against predators. The warthog gets its name from the four gristly warts that protrude from the sides of its face. It is not known for certain what purpose the warts serve. One explanation is that they are used as a weapon, or, alternatively, as a defense in fending off blows from other warthogs.

The warthog lives in a family group called a sounder, consisting of a male and female and one or more successive litters. Its preferred habitat is the open plains and grasslands of Africa, especially where there is a good water source in which it can wallow and drink. The warthog makes its den either under a rock or in a sheltered burrow, but more often, it will sleep and breed in abandoned aardvark dens. When the family enters the underground den, the young climb down head first. An adult is always last to enter, and slides in backwards, facing the entrance with its tusks should any predator try to attack. The warthog is renowned for its courage and ferocity in defending its family. The combination of speed and two sets of tusks is enough to fend off most predators. Although, it has poor eyesight, it has a good sense of smell and acute hearing. The warthog’s only real threat comes from lions and leopards. Adult males, or boars, occasionally fight among themselves, putting on a good show of bravado. With manes bristling and heads lowered, the boars will push and shove, trying to unbalance their opponent. Their tusks can inflict severe wounds.

The warthog grazes mainly on short grasses and herbs. Because of its short neck, it must get down on its knees to feed. The warthog’s eyes are set very high and far back on its forehead, so that it can watch for predators while feeding. It also feeds on leaves and fruit, and in some areas, on bulbs and tubers. Although the warthog is usually silent, it grunts when feeding.

During breeding season, the male warthog follows the female wherever she goes, often circling her until she is ready to mate. Throughout this courtship ritual, the males makes a noise that sound like a clattering motor. When the female becomes pregnant, she leaves the family group and finds an empty den. She gives birth to a litter of two to four young. The young are grayish pink in color. They are sensitive to the cold, so they huddle together in the den for the first few days to keep warm. The mother leaves them for most of the day, returning periodically to feed them. After a week, the young venture out of the den for longer periods, until they eventually return only at night.

The warthog is not thought to be in danger of extinction, although many tribes hunt it for sport and meat.