Warthogs: Diet & Habitat

Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

Warthogs are quite an adaptable creature. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the foods they eat as well as their preferred habitat and typical geographic range.

Adapt and Thrive

When you think about African animals, what comes to mind? The first ones you thought of might be well-known endangered animals, such as the rhino. However, some animals are so adaptable that they can thrive even when displaced and hunted by humans. One such animal is the warthog.

There are actually two species of warthog, neither of which are endangered. There is the common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) and the desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus). These species are closely related and so similar in looks and behavior that they are often grouped together. Both warthogs are well-adjusted to living near humans. They typically forage, or look for food, at dawn and dusk, but when they are near humans they forage at night to avoid hunters. Warthogs can also run over 30 miles per hour, and they have sharp tusks for protecting themselves. What a tough creature!

Warthogs foraging for food.
Two warthogs

Eat What is Available

Another reason warthogs are doing so well is their varied diet. They are opportunistic feeders, which means they eat a variety of food depending on what is available. Their main diet consists of grasses, roots, bulbs (the place roots grow out of in some plants), berries, and bark.

Roots and bulbs are an especially big part of their diet in the dry season when grass doesn't grow as well. Warthogs have tough noses, and they use these and their front hooves to dig around in the dirt to find food. To reach lower down, they kneel on their front knees. This also helps them reach the shorter grass.

However, if plant food is scarce, as it often is in the dry season, warthogs make the best of what's around. They will scavenge dead animals and even eat the dung from herbivores! Truly, they are an adaptable animal.

No Place Like Home

Geographic range is the main way the two species of warthog differ, though there is overlap. The common warthog can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which is all of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. However, it is not as likely to live in extremely dry areas. The desert warthog prefers dry areas and is mostly found in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

Both species prefer the savanna and grassland habitat. They also live in open woodlands or scrubland, which are habitats with small trees spaced relatively far apart. Warthogs do not live in heavily forested areas. They usually live near a water source (as most animals do), but in the dry season, this isn't always possible. Fortunately, warthogs can go months without drinking water! This perfectly suits them for the difficult dry season.

Warthogs prefer the savanna habitat.
Warthog group

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