Giant Forest Hog Facts

The giant forest hog, hylochoerus meinertzhageni, is the largest of the 16 pig species in the world. They measure 4.3 to 7 feet (130 to 210 centimeters) long and stand 2.5 to 3.6 feet (75 to 110 centimeters) tall at the shoulders. They weigh 220 to 605 pounds (100 to 275 kilograms) with males (called boars) being significantly larger than females (called sows). A mature male has 2 large, naked ‘warts’ located underneath its eyes that are made up of cartilage, dermal tissue and bone. Both genders have slate-gray skin that is covered with coarse dark brown or black hair that gets sparser as they age. They also have two upper canines that flare outwards and upwards over the snout.

The giant forest hog can be found across central Africa. They will inhabit montane forests as well as the grasslands adjacent to them. They live in groups (which are called ‘drifts’ or ‘herds’ that may contain as many as 20 individuals) and are most active during both the early morning and late afternoon. These groups will leave their night resting spots at sunrise and move to the open savannah along well worn trails in order to find food. At around midday, the herd will retreat into the forest and rest for about 2 hours and then return to continue feeding. During this 2 hour break, they may spend up to an hour wallowing around in mud or water. Communication is handled through a series of grunts and barks. Males are responsible for defending their group. Since a herd’s territory, which can be as large as 6.2 square miles (10 square kilometers) may overlap extensively with another herd’s, fights between males will often occur and can sometimes be fatal.

The diet of a giant forest hog consists of grasses, herbs, fruits, leaves, carrion and even the feces of other animals as it contains semi-digested food. Unlike other wild pigs, they do not use their snout to dig out food from the ground. Common predators that a giant forest hog must look out for include lions, leopards and hyenas. These predators, however, will often only prey on the young since adults are powerful enough to chase them off.

Birthing for the giant forest hog is concentrated from January to February and from July to August. A female will only give birth once a year and will leave her group to build a nest before she has her young. After a gestation period of 132 to 154 days, a litter of 2 to 11 piglets is born. The mother and her offspring will rejoin the herd after 1 week. The piglets are taken care of by the entire group and will nurse from any of the females for 8 to 10 weeks. If the little ones can survive long enough, then they can live to be up to 12 years old.

The giant forest hog is an overall common species. In the Congo, it is believed that eating one will bring about misfortune and they have been known to attack hunters when they have been shot at so hunting is not an immediate danger for them. Hopefully, the giant forest hog can continue its peaceful existence alongside humans. After all, such a unique pig species deserves to live and prosper far into the future.

Works Cited

“Giant Forest Hog” 26 September 2011

“Hylochoerus Meinertzhageni” 26 September 2011

“Giant Forest Hog” 26 September 2011

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