Warthog. What do you think of when you hear that word? All sorts of images probably pop into your mind. We doubt many of them are very attractive. After all, who wants to have “wart” as part of their name?

Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are wild members of the pig family that live on the grasslands and savannahs of Africa. They look very fierce. Their large heads are shaped a bit like a shovel.

Plus, they have sharp lower canine teeth that look like straight tusks. Older warthogs also have curved upper tusks. The lower tusks can grow to be up to six inches long. The upper tusks can grow to be up to two feet long!

Warthogs also sport a unique hairdo. They’re mostly bald, with just sparse patches of hair here and there. Many warthogs do have a thicker mane along their backs, though.

And, of course, there are the “warts” on their heads. The “warts” that give warthogs their name are actually protective bumps. They store fat and help protect warthogs during fights. Sometimes, males will fight for mates, and the protective “warts” help to cushion blows during these battles.

Although warthogs might look rough and tough, they usually try to avoid fights. There are many predators who would like to snack on warthogs, including lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas. Warthogs can run really fast, though. How fast? Not as fast as cheetahs, but warthogs have been known to run as fast as 30-35 miles per hour!

When they sense a predator nearby, most warthogs will either run away or dive for the nearest underground aardvark burrow. They’ve also learned to adapt to new threats, which has kept them off the endangered species list so far.

For example, most warthogs like to graze on plants, grass and berries during the early morning and early evening. If they live in an area where they are hunted by people, though, they adapt to hunt for food at night instead. They often use their large snouts to smell out and then dig up roots and plant bulbs.

Male warthogs are called boars. Female warthogs are known as sows. They communicate with their babies — called piglets — with a wide variety of grunts, groans, growls, squeals and snorts. A family group of warthogs is called a sounder.

Warthogs share a special relationship with a bird called the oxpecker. Oxpeckers ride on warthogs, eating tiny bugs that like to live on the warthogs. This provides food for the oxpeckers and constant cleaning for the warthogs. Scientists call such mutually-beneficial relationships among animals symbiotic relationships.

52 Join the Discussion

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  1. From reading this I learned some cool facts about warthogs. I never knew that they are part of the pig family. Also their heads are shaped like a big shovel. The lower tusks can grow to be up to six inches long. The upper tusks can grow to be up to two feet long! Lastly I learned that warthogs have been known to run as fast as 30-35 miles per hour! As you can see I learned many thing with wonderopolis today, thanks!!

    • Way to go, Jules! We are so proud of everything that you’ve learned about the warthog! They are really COOL animals and we are glad you’ve gotten to know them better! Have a WONDER-filled day, Jules! :)

  2. I predict lots of guesses about tomorrow’s wonder maybe.
    • Dogs
    • Dolphins at SeaWorld
    • Polar bears
    • Pandas
    • Deer
    • Tiger


    • Way to go, Jules, you’ve been doing a stellar job of guessing tomorrow’s Wonder! We can’t wait to see you tomorrow– WOHOO! :)

  3. This is my first time at wonderopolis! I am in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class. I thought that the warthog video was on the weird side. I predict that tomorrow’s topic will be cats or dogs.

    • We’re SUPER excited you’re here, Alexis! We hope you and your Wonder Friends in Mrs. Wall’s class have enjoyed using your imaginations today! We are sorry to hear that the video wasn’t your favorite, but we hope you liked WONDERing about warthogs with us!

      Check out this past Wonder about your favorite furry friends:

      Wonder #660– Can Dogs and Cats Get Along? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/can-dogs-and-cats-get-along/ :)

  4. Hey wonderopolis this wonder is really cool. I never knew that the upper tusks can grow to 2 feet long and the lower tusks to 6 inches it is unbelievable how long the tusks can grow! The video was cool!


  5. Today’s wonder of the day was cool. I thought that a warthog was just a member of the pig family. I never knew it really had warts.

    • Hi, Siddman, thanks for wondering with us about the large pig family that the warthog belongs to! We think it’s pretty COOL to learn something new about those warts, too! Have an AWESOME day! :)

    • We’re jumping for joy, Bryleigh, thanks for commenting today! We are glad you enjoyed learning about these cool, warty creatures! Have a SUPER day, Wonder Friend! :)

    • How cool, Allison, we are so glad you shared your comment with us today! We are happy that you’ve learned yet another thing about warthogs! We hope you have a STELLAR day, Wonder Friend! :)

    • WOHOO, thanks for joining and commenting, Alexis! We are so happy that you have enjoyed our creative Wonders! HAVE A SUPER DAY! :)

  6. When I went to Africa in 2008 to study I saw lots of warthogs in Kenya. I never knew so much about them before! I really love this website because it will teach me so much! Thank you for creating this wonderful website. :) I was in Africa for 6 months and saw many amazing animals. I went when I was 18.

    • WOW, that is an incredible experience, Emma! Thanks for sharing your cool story with us! We are so excited that you experienced Kenyan warthogs in their natural habitat!! Have a SUPER day, we are so glad that you are WONDERing with us today! :)

  7. This is my first time at Wonderopolis! The video was cool, I never knew that a warthog’s head looked like a shovel and that they are part of the pig family. It’s good to know those facts, I think tomorrow’s wonder will be a dog, cat, puppy or kitten.

    • WELCOME, Alexis! We are so happy that you’ve joined the WONDERing fun! It’s so much fun to learn something new with great Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • Hey Jojo, we’re glad you learned something exciting and new about warthogs– those bumps are there for a reason! We hope you have a WONDER-filled day! :)

  8. Amazing I thought I was watching animal planet for a second. I can’t believe warthogs are plant eaters, I always thought they were meat eaters. I also learned that the tusks could get up to two feet long. That is as tall or taller than my two dogs combined. I also am amazed that a lot of the animal kingdom hunts the warthog. Because of where they live they would need their warts to store the fat so they can run up to thirty-five miles an hour. How do the warthogs store a little fat in their bumps and still be not fater? I think tomorrow’s wonder is about dogs, horses, or humans.

    • WOHOO, we love your enthusiasm Matt D! Thanks for joining us and learning about the amazing life of the warthog! There is so much more WONDERing to do, we Wonder if you can find some more information on your own about warthogs. Thanks for sharing your guesses with us too– we can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  9. Hi! I’m in Mrs. Caplin’s class. I thought this wonder was super cool. First, because the warthog in the video looked like Pumba in The Lion King, second, the oxpecker is a really weird name, and third, their hair in the video looks like a horse! :)

    • Hey there Mookie the cat, we’re so glad you’re back! You made a great connection to the Lion King’s character, Pumba! You have some great observations and we’re happy to hear that you enjoyed learning about our warthog Wonder today! :)

    • Thanks for leaving a comment at Wonderopolis today, Wonder Friend I! We think it’s pretty cool that you’ve seen SO MANY animals with your own two eyes– there is a ton to Wonder about when it comes to the ways animals live, play and everything in between. We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

    • Hi Wonder Friend I, we are excited when WONDERers of all ages use their imaginations with us! Wonderopolis is for everyone– there is always something new and exciting to discover! :)

  10. I totally agree with Mookie the Cat, I thought of Pumba when I saw the wonder this morning. I am also interested about the food chain and predators. I also learned about a new bird (oxpecker) sounds like the two of them get along very well together. Using context clues I am guessing symbiotic might mean that? Great wonder today! Nice job MC students!!

    • We hope you’re feeling better Mrs. Caplin! We are so glad that your AWESOME students are making connections left and right with past Wonders, and what they’re learning the your classroom, too! Thank you for stopping by Wonderopolis! See you soon! :)

  11. Hi, I’m in Mrs. Caplin’s Class! I did not know that a warthogs’ tusks could be that long. I did not know that warthogs really have warts on their face. I also didn’t know that the warts on a warthogs face stored fat and protected them when they’re fighting. The last thing I didn’t know was that warthogs can run 30-35 miles per hour.

    • Hi there, Simba, thanks for WONDERing with us as we adventure into Kenya to explore the warthog lifestyle!! We are so glad you’ve learned all these cool things with us– it’s amazing to discover facts about these interesting animals! Great job WONDERing with us– we can’t wait to see you again! :)

  12. Even though they are on the ugly side I still find them quite cute, but I think it’s just because whenever I see them I think of Pumba and Pumba’s SOO cute! I actually can’t think of anything that could be tomorrow’s wonder. Can’t wait to see what it is!!

    • We hope you are having a SUPER day, Anna! We love all the WONDERing you’ve been doing about the Lion King connection to our warthog Wonder! We hope to see you soon so we can use our imaginations together! :)

  13. Wow that video was “different”. I am in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class. Alexis is in my class. She has been writing to you too. I like this website a lot. What is your name? Are you a boy or a girl? PLEASE TELL ME what tomorrow’s wonder is PLEASE we are friends right? Friends don’t keep secrets. :)

    • Hi Sarah, we are glad you found our warthog Wonder interesting! We love WONDERing with you and your classmates in Mrs. Wall’s class– it’s so fun to make Wonder Friends! We are really happy that you’re here with us!

      There are lots of guys and gals here at Wonderopolis– we all like to use our imaginations and meet new Wonder Friends! We are excited to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder brings… we can’t wait for the secret to be uncovered tomorrow! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Great to see you again, Sarah! My name is Wonder Friend– and we couldn’t be happier that you are here!

      We Wonder if you have any fun facts or interesting points to add to our Wonder about warthogs? It would be so much fun to share with all our Wonder Friends here! We hope you have a STELLAR day, Sarah! :)

  14. I think it is fasinating that the warthogs have warts on the top of their heads to store fat and help cushion their heads during fights.

    • HOORAY, we are so glad you learned something new and interesting with us today, Tayler! Warthogs are interesting animals– those warts really protect them! Pretty cool! We hope you have a SUPER day, Wonder Friend! :)

    • We really enjoy your enthusiasm, Sarah M! It’s great fun to learn about all these different animals that live on Earth, and how they are a part of our ecosystem, too! Thanks for sharing your SUPER comment with us, it’s great to have awesome Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about warthogs with us, Blaze! We think it’s fun to learn new things about cool animals like the warthog! Thanks for joining the fun today! :)

  15. I really learned a lot about warthogs!! I never knew that they had tusks that could grow to SIX feet long! Thanks wonderopolis!

    • We’re so glad we were able to help you with your project! Wonderopolis is a great place to learn information. What was your project about? We’d love to have you WONDER with us again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do warthogs really have warts?
  • Where do warthogs live?
  • How fast can warthogs run?

Wonder Gallery

wart hog_shutterstock_43009213Vimeo Video

Try It Out

So what do you think? Are warthogs ugly? Or are they so ugly they’re cute? And what about baby warthogs? They’re kind of cute, aren’t they?

Warthogs might not top the list of cutest animals, but we’re sure they have plenty of redeeming qualities. Write a letter to a warthog or a poem about a warthog. Your goal? Make the warthog feel special.

Accentuate the positive aspects of the warthog, such as their speed, strength, intelligence and adaptability. Elaborate on all the good things you know about warthogs. Minimize the negative things. After reading your letter or poem, a warthog should feel proud to be a warthog!

When you’re finished, share your letter or poem with your Wonder Friends by posting it to Facebook. We can’t wait to read what you write!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ People and African Animals lesson, children examine ways that human activities impact African animals and their habitats.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a closer look at some really needy creatures!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.