Pugnacious Pig – January 2012

Shot of the Month – January 2012

Talk about truth in advertising – “warthog” pretty much sums it up.  There really is no way around it, these pigs are, well, not pretty.  In fact, they are so unattractive that many find them adorable.

This photo, taken in Botswana, does a pretty good job of highlighting a few of the warthog’s most notable attributes.

First, there are the namesake warts.  There are two, one on each side of the head, near the eyes and two more just above the nose.  These protrusions have two roles.  The first makes some sense – they act as armor to help protect the pig when fighting or trying to fend off a predator.  The second is a bit of shocker.  Those protrusions are fat reserves.  Turns out that warthogs do not have subcutaneous fat – so it true that they are not beauty queens, but they can gloat about their low body fat.

Second, we have those tusks.  The ones on top are impressive, but it is the smaller bottom pair that is most dangerous.  The bottom set of ivory becomes razor sharp as it rubs against the upper set of tusks each time the warthog opens and closes his mouth.  Together these four tusks represent a serious threat and warthogs have even been known to kill lions with these weapons when lashing out in self defense (more the exception than the rule, but still impressive…)

And last, the famous warthog tail, seen here pointing at roughly 10 o’clock.  When fleeing that tail points straight up like a flag signaling “Retreat!”  Ask anyone lucky enough to have gone on an African safari to list off some of their favorite memories – “warthog running with its tail up” is a safe bet to be among the top three.

The warthog, a creature that is so hard to look at that you can’t help but stare.

(and admire…and smile…)