Red river hog

Last updated

Red river hog
Pinselohrschwein Potamochoerus porcus Tierpark Hellabrunn-5.jpg
Male at Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich, Germany
Potamochoerus porcus Zoo Amneville 28092014 2.jpg
Female with juvenile at Amneville Zoo in Amnéville, France
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Potamochoerus
P. porcus
Binomial name
Potamochoerus porcus
Potamochoerus porcus range map.png

Sus porcusLinnaeus, 1758

The red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus) or bushpig (a named also used for the Potamochoerus larvatus ), is a wild member of the pig family living in Africa, with most of its distribution in the Guinean and Congolian forests. It is rarely seen away from rainforests, and generally prefers areas near rivers or swamps. [2]



The skull Potamochoerus porcus 02 MWNH 737.JPG
The skull
Male with distinct bony facial protuberances Schwein Pinselohrschwein 0509011.jpg
Male with distinct bony facial protuberances

The red river hog has striking orange to reddish-brown fur, with black legs and a tufted white stripe along the spine. Adults have white markings around the eyes and on the cheeks and jaws; the rest of the muzzle and face are a contrasting black. The fur on the jaw and the flanks is longer than that on the body, with the males having especially prominent facial whiskers. Unlike other species of pig native to tropical Africa, the entire body is covered in hair, with no bare skin visible. [3]

Adults weigh 45 to 115 kg (99 to 254 lb) and stand 55 to 80 cm (22 to 31 in) tall, with a length of 100 to 145 cm (39 to 57 in). [2] The thin tail is 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) long [2] and ends in a tuft of black hair. The ears are also long and thin, ending in tufts of white or black hair that may each 12 cm (4.7 in) in length. Boars are somewhat larger than sows, and have distinct conical protuberances on either side of the snout and rather small, sharp tusks. The facial protuberances are bony and probably protect the boar's facial tendons during head-to-head combat with other males. [3]

Red river hogs have a dental formula of 3.1.3––4.3, similar to that of wild boar. Both sexes have scent glands close to the eyes and on the feet; males have additional glands near the tusks on the upper jaw and on the penis. There is also a distinctive glandular structure about 2 cm (0.79 in) in diameter on the chin, which probably has a tactile function. Females have six teats. [3]

Distribution and habitat

The red river hog lives in rainforests, wet dense savannas, and forested valleys, and near rivers, lakes and marshes. The species' distribution ranges from the Congo area and Gambia to the eastern Congo, southwards to the Kasai and the Congo River. The exact delineation of its range versus that of the bushpig is unclear; but in broad terms, the red river hog occupies western and central Africa, and the bushpig occupies eastern and southern Africa. [3] Where the two meet, they are sometimes said to interbreed, [4] although other authorities dispute this. [3] Although numerous subspecies have been identified in the past, none are currently recognised. [3]


Red river hog at Durrell Wildlife Park (Jersey) Pinselohrschwein im Durrell Wildlife Park.JPG
Red river hog at Durrell Wildlife Park (Jersey)

Red river hogs are often active during the day, but are primarily nocturnal or crepuscular. [5] They typically live in small groups of approximately six to ten animals, composed of a single adult male, and a number of adult females and their young. [3] However, much larger groups, some with over 30 individuals, have been noted in particularly favourable habitats. [6] The boar defends his harem aggressively against predators, with leopards being a particularly common threat. [7]

They communicate almost continuously with grunts and squeals with a repertoire that can signal alarm, distress, or passive contact. [2]

The species is omnivorous, eating mainly roots and tubers, and supplements its diet with fruit, grasses, herbs, eggs, dead animal and plant remains, insects, and lizards. It uses its large muzzle to snuffle about in the soil in search of food, as well as scraping the ground with their tusks and fore-feet. They can cause damage to agricultural crops, such as cassava and yams. [3]


Piglets at the Cincinnati Zoo RedRiverHog2 CincinnatiZoo.jpg
Piglets at the Cincinnati Zoo

Red river hogs breed seasonally, so that the young are born between the end of the dry season in February and the midpoint of the rainy season in July. [2] The oestrus cycle lasts 34 to 37 days. [8] The male licks the female's genital region before mating, which lasts about five to ten minutes. Gestation lasts 120 days. [2]

The mother constructs a nest from dead leaves and dry grass before giving birth to a litter of up to six piglets, with three to four being most common. [3] The piglets weigh 650 to 900 g (23 to 32 oz) at birth, and are initially dark brown with yellowish stripes and spots. They are weaned after about four months, and develop the plain reddish adult coat by about six months; the dark facial markings do not appear until they reach adulthood at about two years of age. They probably live for about fifteen years in the wild. [3]

Related Research Articles

<i>Sus</i> (genus) Genus of even-toed ungulates

Sus is the genus of wild and domestic pigs, within the even-toed ungulate family Suidae. Sus include domestic pigs and their ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar, along with other species. Sus species, like all suids, are native to the Eurasian and African continents, ranging from Europe to the Pacific islands. Suids other than the pig are the babirusa of Indonesia, the pygmy hog of South Asia, the warthogs of Africa, and other pig genera from Africa. The suids are a sister clade to peccaries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wild boar</span> Species of mammal

The wild boar, also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia and North Africa, and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. The species is now one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widespread suiform. It has been assessed as least concern on the IUCN Red List due to its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability to a diversity of habitats. It has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. Wild boars probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and outcompeted other suid species as they spread throughout the Old World.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Common warthog</span> Wild member of the pig family

The common warthog is a wild member of the pig family (Suidae) found in grassland, savanna, and woodland in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, it was commonly treated as a subspecies of P. aethiopicus, but today that scientific name is restricted to the desert warthog of northern Kenya, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">African forest elephant</span> African elephant species

The African forest elephant is one of the two living African elephant species. It is native to humid forests in West Africa and the Congo Basin. It is the smallest of the three living elephant species, reaching a shoulder height of 2.4 m. Both sexes have straight, down-pointing tusks, which erupt when they are 1–3 years old. It lives in family groups of up to 20 individuals. Since it forages on leaves, seeds, fruit, and tree bark, it has been referred to as the 'megagardener of the forest'. It contributes significantly to maintain the composition and structure of the Guinean Forests of West Africa and the Congolese rainforests.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suidae</span> Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Suidae is a family of artiodactyl mammals which are commonly called pigs, hogs or swine. In addition to numerous fossil species, 18 extant species are currently recognized, classified into between four and eight genera. Within this family, the genus Sus includes the domestic pig, Sus scrofa domesticus or Sus domesticus, and many species of wild pig from Europe to the Pacific. Other genera include babirusas and warthogs. All suids, or swine, are native to the Old World, ranging from Asia to Europe and Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Sulawesi babirusa</span> Species of mammal

The North Sulawesi babirusa is a pig-like animal native to Sulawesi and some nearby islands in Indonesia. It has two pairs of large tusks composed of enlarged canine teeth. The upper canines penetrate the top of the snout, curving back toward the forehead. The North Sulawesi babirusa is threatened from hunting and deforestation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mandrill</span> Species of Old World monkey

The mandrill is a large Old World monkey native to west-central Africa. It is one of the most colorful mammals in the world, with red and blue skin on its face and posterior. The species is sexually dimorphic, as males have a larger body, longer canine teeth and brighter coloring. Its closest living relative is the drill with which it shares the genus Mandrillus. Both species were traditionally thought to be baboons, but further evidence has shown that they are more closely related to white-eyelid mangabeys.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suina</span> Lineage of omnivorous, non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals that includes the pigs and peccaries

Suina is a suborder of omnivorous, non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals that includes the domestic pig and peccaries. A member of this clade is known as a suine. Suina includes the family Suidae, termed suids, known in English as pigs or swine, as well as the family Tayassuidae, termed tayassuids or peccaries. Suines are largely native to Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, with the exception of the wild boar, which is additionally native to Europe and Asia and introduced to North America and Australasia, including widespread use in farming of the domestic pig subspecies. Suines range in size from the 55 cm (22 in) long pygmy hog to the 210 cm (83 in) long giant forest hog, and are primarily found in forest, shrubland, and grassland biomes, though some can be found in deserts, wetlands, or coastal regions. Most species do not have population estimates, though approximately two billion domestic pigs are used in farming, while several species are considered endangered or critically endangered with populations as low as 100. One species, Heude's pig, is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to have gone extinct in the 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerenuk</span> Long-necked species of antelope (Litocranius walleri)

The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is a long-necked antelope found in parts of East Africa. The sole member of the genus Litocranius, the gerenuk was first described by the naturalist Victor Brooke in 1879. It is characterised by its long, slender neck and limbs. The antelope is 80–105 centimetres tall, and weighs between 18 and 52 kilograms. Two types of colouration are clearly visible on the smooth coat: the reddish brown back or the "saddle", and the lighter flanks, fawn to buff. The horns, present only on males, are lyre-shaped. Curving backward then slightly forward, these measure 25–44 cm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feral pig</span> Any type of feral domesticated pig, wild boar, or hybrid found world wide

The feral pig is a domestic pig which has gone feral, meaning it lives in the wild. They are found mostly in the Americas and Australia. Razorback and wild hog are Americanisms applied to feral pigs or boar-pig hybrids.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pig</span> Domesticated omnivorous even-toed ungulate

The pig, often called swine, hog, or domesticpig when distinguishing from other members of the genus Sus, is an omnivorous, domesticated, even-toed, hoofed mammal. It is variously considered a subspecies of Sus scrofa or a distinct species. The pig's head-plus-body length ranges from 0.9 to 1.8 m, and adult pigs typically weigh between 50 and 350 kg, with well-fed individuals even exceeding this range. The size and weight of hogs largely depends on their breed. Compared to other artiodactyls, a pig's head is relatively long and pointed. Most even-toed ungulates are herbivorous, but pigs are omnivores, like their wild relative. Pigs grunt and make snorting sounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bushpig</span> Species of mammal

The bushpig is a member of the pig family that inhabits forests, woodland, riverine vegetation and cultivated areas in East and Southern Africa. Probably introduced populations are also present in Madagascar. There have also been unverified reports of their presence on the Comoro island of Mayotte. Bushpigs are mainly nocturnal. There are several subspecies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pygmy hog</span> Species of mammal

The pygmy hog is the rarest species of pig in the world today. It is a suid native to alluvial grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas at elevations of up to 300 m (980 ft). Today, the only known population lives in Assam, India and possibly southern Bhutan. As the population is estimated at less than 250 mature individuals, it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is the only species in genus Porcula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giant forest hog</span> Species of mammal

The giant forest hog, the only member of its genus (Hylochoerus), is native to wooded habitats in Africa and is generally considered the largest wild member of the pig family, Suidae; however, a few subspecies of the wild boar can reach an even larger size. Despite its large size and relatively wide distribution, it was first described only in 1904. The specific name honours Richard Meinertzhagen, who shot the type specimen in Kenya and had it shipped to the Natural History Museum in England.

<i>Kolpochoerus</i> Extinct genus of mammals

Kolpochoerus is an extinct genus of the pig family Suidae related to the modern-day genera Hylochoerus and Potamochoerus. It is believed that most of them inhabited African forests, as opposed to the bushpig and red river hog that inhabit open brush and savannas. There are currently eight recognized species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Desert warthog</span> Species of mammal

The desert warthog is a species of even-toed ungulate in the pig family (Suidae), found in northern Kenya and Somalia, and possibly Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. This is the range of the extant subspecies, commonly known as the Somali warthog. Another subspecies, commonly known as the Cape warthog, became extinct around 1865, but formerly occurred in South Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warthog</span> Genus of wild pigs

Phacochoerus is a genus in the family Suidae, commonly known as warthogs. They are pigs who live in open and semi-open habitats, even in quite arid regions, in sub-Saharan Africa. The two species were formerly considered conspecific under the scientific name Phacochoerus aethiopicus, but today this is limited to the desert warthog, while the best-known and most widespread species, the common warthog, is Phacochoerus africanus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gabon talapoin</span> Species of Old World monkey

The Gabon talapoin, also known as the northern talapoin, is a small species of African monkey native to riparian habitats in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the western Republic of the Congo and the far western Democratic Republic of Congo. It may have been introduced to Bioko and the Canary Islands. Classified in the genus Miopithecus, it was given the name Miopithecus ogouensis, based on the River Ogooué, distinguishing it from the other species, the Angolan talapoin, also known as Miopithecus talapoin.

<i>Potamochoerus</i> Genus of mammals

Potamochoerus is a genus in the pig family (Suidae). The two species are restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, although the bushpig, possibly due to introduction by humans, also occurs in Madagascar and nearby islands. Early in the 20th century, there were considered to be as many as five different species within the genus. These were gradually consolidated, until, in the 1970s, it was generally agreed that all were representatives of just a single species. The bushpig was again recognised as a separate species from about 1993.


  1. Querouil, S. & Leus, K. (2008). "Potamochoerus porcus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Kingdon, J. (1997). The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London. ISBN   0-12-408355-2
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Leslie, D.M. & Huffman, B.A. (July 2015). "Potamochoerus porcus (Artiodactyla: Suidae)". Mammalian Species. 47 (919): 15–31. doi: 10.1093/mspecies/sev002 .
  4. Ghiglieri, M.P.; et al. (December 1982). "Bush pig (Potamochoerus porcus) polychromatism and ecology in Kibale Forest, Uganda". African Journal of Ecology. 20 (4): 231–236. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1982.tb00298.x.
  5. Gessner, J.; Buchwald, R. & Wittermyer, G. (March 2014). "Assessing species occurrence and species-specific use patterns of bais (forest clearings) in Central Africa with camera traps". African Journal of Ecology. 52 (1): 59–68. doi:10.1111/aje.12084.
  6. White, L.J.T. (July 1994). "Biomass of rain forest mammals in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon". Animal Ecology. 63 (3): 499–512. doi:10.2307/5217. JSTOR   5217.
  7. Hayward, M.W.; et al. (October 2006). "Prey preferences of the leopard (Panthera pardus)". Journal of Zoology. 270 (2): 298–313. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00139.x.
  8. Berger, E.M.; et al. (January 2006). "Faecal steroid metabolites for non-invasive assessment of reproduction in common warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus), red river hogs (Potamochoerus porcus), and babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa)". Animal Reproduction Science. 91 (1–2): 155–171. doi:10.1016/j.anireprosci.2005.03.009. PMID   15876499.