Red River Hog (Bush Pig)
Scientific Name: Potamochoerus porcus
Red river hogs have excellent hearing and can even detect the underground movement of an earthworm!
Anyone who has visited the red river hogs here at the Los Angeles Zoo knows why they are so endearing. Their warm brown eyes, red hair, graceful shape and form, and flowing ear tufts would put these beautiful African bush pigs at the top in any porcine beauty contest!
STATUS: How are these beauties faring in their natural habitat? Due in part to a human-caused reduction in leopards, they are doing rather well in sub-Saharan Africa. However, because of the damage they do to crops, they aren’t very popular with farmers. Humans have attempted to control this bush pig, often by extermination, but these feisty little hogs continue to hold their ground.
HABITAT: Roaming in forests and swamps and wherever protection is available, red river hogs are content if there is plenty of water and cover available. Because moving about at night is safer than during the day, these primarily nocturnal mammals will forage during daylight if they feel safe from predators. This diurnal activity is the exception, as there are several daylight threats to their survival: farmers protecting their crops, certain large cats, pythons, or any carnivore able to take down a 120- to 260-pound animal. A hungry eagle might find a piglet quite appetizing.
DIET: These hogs will eat just about anything. If a delicacy is underground, that disk-shaped nose with its powerful sense of smell will find it. From farm-grown crops to wild fruit and vegetables these hogs are content to dine on almost anything nature and man serve up. If necessary and presented with the opportunity, small birds, mammals, and even an amphibian or two might find its way into the simple non-ruminating stomach of one of these beautiful redheads. They do have one habit that is a bit surprising: they will actually consume carrion regardless of its state of decomposition. Ugh!
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Downright little beauties, these hogs. Aside from that, those who aren’t exactly red (really sort of orange) might lean toward a gray color. The bony features on the face of a boar offer some protection during face-to-face combat with a potential rival for the affections of his lovely sow. The pointed ears with tufts of flowing hair at the tips add to the charm of these small pigs. As with many animals, scent glands are present in several areas. Those glands in their feet and lips leave scent marks as the pigs move through their habitat.
Although sows take good care of their litters (usually three to four piglets) and the father (boar) is quite involved and attentive, the young are politely booted out of their cozy family setting when it’s time for another litter. The piglets, about six months old and finally on their own, will mature and eventually produce their own families. In the wild they can live for about 20 years. Thankfully that’s a lot of piglets!