Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Potamochoerus lavatus


The bushpig is a wild pig species with a stout, round body, short legs and shaggy, bristly hair that can vary from reddish-brown to gray-brown and even black. Generally this species has a black head with a body of a different color; the colors vary within ages, individuals, sexes and populations. The hair along the spine is more erectile and longer than the hairs of other parts of the body, resembling a mane. There are tassels of hair at the tips of the ears and the end of the tail has a tuft of coarse hair. Young have brown and yellow stripes which fade after several months. The lower tusks of this animal are very sharp, directed upward and outward and can grow to be 7cm while the upper tusks are much smaller and barely visible. Sexual dimorphism (difference between males and females) exists within this species; males have a bony ridge and warts on their snout. Bushpigs can weigh between 54 and 115 kilograms and 100- 150 cm long.


Bushpigs can be found from Somalia to eastern and south to former Zaire, and Natal South Africa. This species can survive in a variety of habitats including gallery forests, flooded forests, swamplands, woodlands, cultivated areas and mixed scrub areas. They are found in a wide range of elevations from sea level to 4,000 m above sea level. This species prefers to take shelter in dense vegetation.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Bushpigs consume plant roots, rhizomes, bulbs, tubers, insects and a variety of invertebrates, carrion and small vertebrates. “Wallowing” an activity of searching for food in the ground by using their snout as a spade, is the most frequently observed activity of the bushpig. Boars aggressively defend feeding areas by driving other boars off the feeding area. They are often seen following monkeys which drop uneaten fruit to the ground within reach of the bushpig.


This species is polygynous, where one male mates with multiple females. A male bushpig will compete with other males for groups of females by butting heads. 120-127 days after mating (generally before the rainy season) a female will go to a sheltered nest or hollow to give birth to 1-4 young and nurses the young for 2-4 months. The male (boar) leads an active role in rearing and defending young, dominant boars guard and lead the young to feeding areas. Young are driven away by the parents at 6 months of age. Bushpigs do not reach sexual maturity until 18-21 months.

Months and Times of Activity

This species is nocturnal (most active at night), but diurnal (daytime) activity increases during cooler months. During the rainy seasons and cooler periods, bushpigs will build nests. Bushpigs are sedentary and defend their territories aggressively.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • There are three subspecies of bushpigs; P.l. hassama, P.l. somaliensis, and P.l. koiropotamus. The main division of these subspecies is between the white-faced bushpigs of eastern Africa and those of southern Africa and Madagascar.
  • Bushpigs are found in groups called “sounders”, groups of up to 12 individuals. They are very social animals as groups are led by one dominant male and female.
  • This species has easily adapted to human influences because they can survive on agricultural crops.
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: TUFTY the bushpig by Marian Clark


Carter, N. 2006. "Potamochoerus larvatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 03, 2014 at