Red River Hog

page header

West and central sub-Saharan Africa.

Red river hogs will live in a variety of habitats as long as there is dense vegetation. Primary and secondary forests, thickets in savannahs, swamps, and steppes are prime locations.

Distinguishing Characteristics
The reddish coloring and white dorsal stripe of the red river hog are unique. The long white whiskers and ear tufts are also distinctive.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Zoo: yams, carrots, grain, and hay; occasionally given crickets, earthworms, and mealworms for enrichment.

Diet in the Wild: The red river hog will eat a wide variety of foods including roots, fruit, seeds, grasses, nuts, fungi, and insects. They will also eat reptiles, birds, bird eggs, and carrion and have been known to eat domestic animals including sheep and goats. They are good swimmers and will forage for water plants when swimming. In typical pig fashion, the red river hog will “root” with the snout to plow up food underneath the ground. A herd can often destroy crops in a very short amount of time. Observations have suggested that red river hogs and bushpigs will follow primate groups in order to eat the fruits that are dropped to the ground.

Life Span
Wild: 15-20 years Captivity: 15-20 years. (The record is 21 years and 7 months of age.)

General: Red river hogs are quite social and tend to live in small groups of eleven to fifteen individuals with 3-6 individuals comprising a typical family unit. Each family unit is headed by a dominant boar and usually contains one female and offspring. Offspring usually remain for about a year but females may stay on permanently. Large temporary groups of up to 60 individuals have been observed; usually in conjunction with a particular food source.

Unique Behaviors:
· When the piglets are frightened they will crouch and “play possum”.
· Red river hogs will often blow their breath on each other as a form of greeting.

Conservation: The red river hog is not endangered and its numbers are on the rise due to increased hunting of leopards (a primary predator) as well as the increase in agriculture (an easy food source). They are readily hunted by humans due to their potential of destroying crops as well as for their meat. It has been suggested that it is possible to domesticate the red river hog and that it was perhaps semi-domesticated in the past.

Zoo Status
Other Interesting Facts: The red river hog is named such due to its burnished red coat and its habit of wallowing and swimming in ponds and streams. Its name does not have anything to do with a “red river”. The name is derived from potamos (Greek) for a river; khoiros (Greek) for a pig; and porcus (Latin) meaning pig