Red River Hog

Red River Hog

[ Potamachoerus porcus ]

Quick Facts

HEIGHT: 20 to 30 inches

110 to 250 pounds

WILD DIET: fruit, tubers, roots, small mammals, small reptiles, birds, eggs, insects, and carrion
ZOO DIET: well-balanced, all-complete grain made especially for zoo animals, sweet potato, apple, and green leafy vegetables
DISTRIBUTION: Africa south of the Sahara southwards to the Cape of Africa
HABITAT: wet forested areas, including lowland forests up to mountain forests


Designer Hogs

They like it wet
Red River hogs live in forested areas of central and southern Africa. As their name suggests, Red River hogs prefer to live in wet habitats, though not necessarily rivers. Any swamp or marsh with places to hide from predators and plenty of food will do. The moist, soft ground make these habitats good places to root around for food. And Red River hogs are well-designed for rooting and digging.

Talented snouts
Red River hogs use the disk-like ends of their snouts to sweep over the ground and to sniff out food. They have a great sense of smell, and it’s enhanced by the circular motions the hog uses while sniffing around. When a delectable morsel is located, they use their snouts to uncover the item. The snouts are firm, and even deep roots can be shoveled up. Red River hogs have two razor sharp tusks that extend from the mouth, and these are good for cutting through woody roots and tubers.

What the well-dressed hog’s wearing
Red River hogs look like they’ve been designed by someone with a good fashion sense – at least as far as hogs are concerned. These fashion plates of the pig world are among the most colorful of all mammals. They have rusty - red to dark red fur. Running down the middle of their back is a crest of longer, white hair. They also have whisker-like ruffs of white hair along the cheeks and white circles around the eyes. To complete the look, Red River hogs have tufts of hair, called tassels, which extend from the ear tips.

That’s good eatin’!
Members of the pig family are not known for their picky pallets, and Red River hogs are no exception. Their favorite foods are fallen fruit, roots, and bulbs, but they’ll also eat grass, fungi (mushrooms), small mammals, reptiles, birds, bird eggs, insects, and any carrion they come upon. Having such a broad diet is a good survival strategy, because the next meal is usually not very far away. But, there is a downside...

Garden marauders
People are coming to live near or in Africa’s rain forests in increasing numbers. They come to take advantage of the forest’s many resources, such as timber and minerals. Of course they need food, so they clear the forests and plant gardens.

Red River hogs are drawn to settled areas because there’s plenty of food, and few predators. Red River hogs are not friends of the farmer because the hogs raid gardens. From a hog’s point of view, it’s a lot easier to dig up a garden full of well-ordered crop rows than it is to scrounge around the forest. Farmers are not interested in providing a pig buffet, so they’ll exterminate marauding hogs if given the chance. But Red River hogs are just doing what comes naturally when they root up garden fare, and there are more and more gardens all the time.

Get Involved

Conservation Fund of the Chicago Zoological Society