Africa’s smallest wild pig species is the red river hog or Potamochoerus porcus.

Red river hogs, sometimes called bush pigs, are only about three feet long and about half as tall. Their body is covered with mainly reddish fur, with no large patches of visible skin like what is seen in many species of swine (pigs). Texans familiar with wild boar may wonder if this cousin species is named after a Red River such as is local to the state, but instead this animal is named after its overall body color and the fact that it often lives near rivers and swamps. 🙂

Besides the distinctive red fur, these swine also have prominent white stripes running the length of their backs, and often have long white whiskers and white eye rings. They have tufted ears and tails and long hair resembling sparse manes on their sides (“flanks”). Like other typical pig species (swine), red river hogs have splayed “hoofs” with two toes pointing forward and two smaller back or side toes that give them better grip in mud. They also have tusks (elongated teeth) and a very sensitive shovel-like snout that is used for digging in the soil and detecting edible roots and other plant foods — along with some reptiles, eggs, and insects. Some bush pigs will even follow a group of chimpanzees to locate fallen fruit either dropped by the trees or by the monkeys during their own feeding.

Amazingly, the mother red river hog builds a nest for her piglets! The huge construction covers several square yards and is made mostly of dried grasses. The young stay here until they all rejoin the family group with their mother.

Groups of red river hogs are called “sounders” and usually number less than ten, but can swell up to fifty or more members. These family groups are typically made of several females and their young, watched over by one dominant male. Family members stay in constant contact with each other through a variety of noises such as squeaks and squeals and grunts. Groups communicate with each other through louder squeals and roars as well as through scent marking and gouging tree trunks with their tusks. Bush pigs are most active at night, often spending daylight hours snoozing in burrows carved out within the dense rainforest undergrowth.


More on this species:
Wikipedia   |   ARKive
Encyclopeda of Life (pics!)
Animal Diversity Web
Smithsonian Zoo
Ultimate Ungulate



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