- The name ‘babirusa’ means pig deer in the Indonesian language.
- Males are larger than females.
- They differ from other pigs in that they do not have a specialised snout. They also have a complex 2 chambered stomach. This is more reminiscent of the digestive systems of hippos than those of fellow pigs.
- Scientists believe they branched off from other members of the pig family early in evolution.
- Are fast runners and good swimmers and are known in the wild to swim in the sea to reach offshore islands.
- The purpose of the male’s tusks are a mystery. One untested theory is that the tusks serve a display purpose. Perhaps signalling genetic fitness to females.
Animals — Mammals — Artiodactyla (even toed ungulates) — Suidae (pigs and hogs)
Babirusas are pig-like animals found in moist forests. They can be easily recognised by the male’s unique tusks that curl upwards towards the face. The top tusks actually grow up through the snout rather than coming out through the mouth. Their tusks are brittle, but may protect individuals from others’ sharp bottom teeth.
Unusually for the Suidae family (wild and domestic pigs), they normally only have 1 or 2 young per pregnancy. The piglets are not camouflaged with stripes like the young of many other pig species, which is thought to be due to a predator free environment. The piglets will develop quickly, wandering from the nest and sampling foods by 10 days old.
They are classed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN. Their populations are decreasing in the wild, and this is due to excessive hunting, and habitat loss due to commercial logging. This is despite long standing legal protection.
Habitat: Moist forests and also found near the shores of rivers and lakes. They avoid dense scrub vegetation.
–Average weight: 90kg (males), 60kg (females)
–Average length: 97cm
In the wild up to: 10 years
In captivity up to: 24 years
Diet: Eats fruits, roots and bark.
Distribution: Indonesia, Sulawesi, the Togian and Sula islands and Buru Islands in the Moluccas.