Babirusa Fact File
The babirusa is a species of wild pig. Their most notable feature is the upper canines which in males grow through the muzzle and then curve back towards their face. Females lack these or they are incredibly small.
It is unclear what the purpose of the tusks is. They are extremely brittle which means they are not well suited to combat as once believed.
They have a torpedo shaped body and skinny legs which are adaptations to help them move through the forest.
Their skin has a number of folds and is rough. It is colored brownish gray and has a variable coat of dark bristles which are lighter on the underside.
At the end of their body is a short tail of between 27 and 32cm (10.5 and 12.5in) long.
Their body measures between 0.9 and 1.1m (3-3.5ft) long with an average weight of 43 to 100kg (94.7-220lbs). At the shoulder they stand 65-80cm (25.5-31.5in) long.
The babirusa is a omnivore. They feed on foliage, mushrooms, berries, nuts, fallen fruit, invertebrates, small vertebrates and fungi.
Unlike most other suids (pigs) they do not appear to use their snout to root for food. Babirusa will stand on their back legs to forage for leaves.
They also have a more specialized diet than most of the other pig species.
Wild 10 years
Captive 24 years
— AD —
Asia is the native home of the babirusa. Here they can be found on the Indonesia archipelago. Babirusa live on the Sulawesi, Togian and Baru islands.
They make their home in swamps, canebrakes and forests around rivers and lakes. Babirusa will not enter dense shrub vegetation if it can be avoided.
Mating takes place from January to August with males and females which come out at night. Fights between males are common before mating begins.
One to two piglets will be born after a 155 to 158 day gestation period. Unlike most piglets they do not have stripes across their skin.
There are few predators in the range of the babirusa and it is thought that this has led to their smaller litter sizes and lack of camouflage method.
The piglets nurse from their mother for six to eight months. They may first taste solid food as early as 10 days old.
Sexual maturity is reached between one and two years old.
Babirusa communicate with one another through grunts, moans and clattering their teeth.
Females live in groups of up to eight individuals and their young. Males live a solitary lifestyle or as bachelor herds with between two and three males.
Males will fight for mating rights with the females. In these fights they rear up and box with their front hooves.
These animals are diurnal meaning active by day.
They are good swimmers and may swim in the oceans to move between islands.
Their upper tusks do not wear down the lower tusks like they do in most other pigs so instead they are actively worn down on trees.
To mark out their territory they will perform a behavior known as “ploughing.” During this they put their snout in the soil, kneel and then slide forward while salivating.
Predators and Threats
While hunting babirusa has been made illegal they are still threatened by this. Habitat loss is another threat to this species.
There is thought to be less than 10,000 babirusa left in the wild.
The name babirusa is Malaysian for pig-deer. This comes from the thought that their tusks resemble a deer’s antlers.
In folklore it is said that babirusa hangs its head from the branches of trees using the large tusks.
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