Animals with warts and all

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The Children’s Planet area at Flamingo Land is home to three different kinds of hogs; Visayan warty pigs, red river hogs and warthogs. They live in adjoining enclosures and at first glance they all seem very similar. In some ways of course, they are. They all have flexible snouts, ideal for rooting around in the mud, soil or leaf litter to look for food. They all have hooves with two toes, meaning that they can run much faster than you might think. And they all have some sort of tusks.

Warthogs are named for the two fleshy bumps on the faces of the males. Both males and females have two sets of tusks, two large, curved upper ones and two shorter, sharper lower ones. The tusks are used for defence against predators. Males will also use the tusks to fight one another during the breeding season. The ‘warts’ on their faces help to protect them during these fights, so that injuries are rare. Warthogs are found in sub-Saharan Africa, in savannah and open woodland. They graze on grasses much more than other hogs and have a characteristic way of tucking their front feet under and resting on their wrists to bring their heads closer to the grass tips.

Red river hogs are also found in Africa. They are the smallest African pig and their bright rust-red colouring makes them easy to recognise. Their ears are long and pointed, with distinctive tufts of fur on the tips. Just like warthogs, both males and females have tusks and the males do have large warts, although these are often hidden by their fur. Both Flamingo Land’s red river hogs (Rusty and Radley) are males, so look out for their warts next time you see them!

The last of our three kinds of hog is probably the one most people have never heard of. Visayan warty pigs are small, forest-dwelling animals found in the Visayan Islands, the central archipelago of the Phillipines. Historically they were found throughout the island chain but nowadays they are confined to just two islands. Not much is known about warty pigs in the wild because they haven’t been well studied. However, they are believed to live in small groups, feeding on fruits, roots and tubers and occasionally emerging from the forest to plunder cereal crops.