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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet: Discover the ungulates of the world!
 Potamochoerus porcus
 Red river hog

Taxonomy | Description | Reproduction | Ecology | Behavior | Distribution | Conservation | Remarks | Literature


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Potamochoerus porcus [Linnaeus, 1758].
Citation: Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1:50.
Type locality: "Guinea" (= West Africa).

The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993).

Two subspecies named: porcus west of Niger River, and pictus east of Niger River (Happold, 1987).

Subspecies differentiated by minor differences in skulls, probably not valid (Happold, 1987).

albifrons (porcus) albinuchalis (porcus) mawambicus (porcus) penicillatus (porcus) pictus (porcus) ubangensis (porcus)

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

scientific measurements.

Reported measurements for red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus)

Source                   Adult Weight   Head & Body Length    Shoulder Height     Tail Length 

Happold, 1987

54-81 kg

127 cm

63-76 cm

38 cm

Pelage bright rufous (Happold, 1987).

reddish brown or rufous (Lydekker, 1915).

Dorsal surface and flanks covered with long coarse rufous hair (Happold, 1987).

White mane on mid-dorsal line (Happold, 1987).

Short, bright white dorsal crest (Lydekker, 1915).

Crest cemmences just behind ears (Lydekker, 1915).

Coat dense; skin not visible - compared with sparse coat of P. larvatus (Lydekker, 1915).

Large pig (Happold, 1987).

Limbs short and thickset, hooves small (Happold, 1987).

Tail has black terminal tuft (Happold, 1987).

Forehead blackish in mature adults (Lydekker, 1915).

White markings above eyes greatly expanded in specimens from 'Cape Lopez, western French Congo" (Lydekker, 1915).

Head elongated (Happold, 1987).

Muzzle with flattened snout (Happold, 1987).

Cheeks and forehead greyish-brown (Happold, 1987).

White patch below each eye and on throat (Happold, 1987).

Eyes small (Happold, 1987).

Ears pointed with tuft of long white hair at tip (Happold, 1987).

Ears black, with the upper margin and part of the terminal tuft whitish (Lydekker, 1915).

Facial 'warts' (tuberopsities) less well developed than in larvatus (Lydekker, 1915).

Upper pair does not project past nasal plane (Lydekker, 1915).

Tusks small and short (Happold, 1987). 

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Three to six young born per litter (Happold, 1987).

Gestation period about 5 months (Happold, 1987).

New-boprn young recorded in Nigeria in February and March (Happold, 1987).

Extent of breeding season unknown (Happold, 1987).

Young bown dark rufous with pale yellow longitudinal stripes on back and flanks (Happold, 1987).


Inhabit rainforest, secondary forestm and riverine forest where there is lots of cover (Happold, 1987).

Prefer moist habitats where the soil is soft and water is plentiful (Happold, 1987).

May undergo seasonal dispersals into other forest regions during the wet season (Happold, 1987).

Primarily nocturnal (Happold, 1987).

Live in groups of up to 20 individuals (Happold, 1987).

Fairly nomadic - wander over a wide area searching for food (Happold, 1987).

Good swimmers (Happold, 1987).

Omnivorous (Happold, 1987).

Roots, berries, fruits, bulbs eaten (Happold, 1987).

Occassionally reptiles, birds, and eggs eaten (Happold, 1987).

Forage with muzzle and by scraping in soft soil with forefeet (Happold, 1987).

Scrapes are often the most obvious evidence that red river hogs are present (Happold, 1987).

May cause damage to farmlands adjacent to forest (Happold, 1987).





Countries: (IUCN, 2006).

Range Map (Redrawn from Vercammen et al., 1993)

Conservation Status




Local names ()
Literature Cited
Happold, D. C. D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria.  Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 203-204.

Lydekker, R.  1915.  Catalogue of the Ungulate Mammals in the British Museum of Natural History,  Volume IV.  London: the Order of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Vercammen, P., A. H. W. Seydack, and W. L. R. Oliver.  1993.  The bush pigs (Potamochoerus porcus and P. larvatus).  In Pigs, Peccaries and Hippos: Status Survey and Action Plan.  Edited by W. L. R. Oliver.   Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.  pp. 93-101.  Available online at

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

Additional Resources

*African swine fever virus infection of the bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus) and its significance in the epidemiology of the disease

Anderson, E.C.1; Hutchings, G.H.2; Mukarati, N.3; Wilkinson, P.J.

Veterinary Microbiology, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 1-15, April 1998

*Faecal steroid metabolites for non-invasive assessment of reproduction in common warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus), red river hogs (Potamochoerus porcus) and babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa)

Berger, EM; Leus, K; Vercammen, P; Schwarzenberger, F

ANIMAL REPRODUCTION SCIENCE,vol.91,no.1-2,pp.155-171,2006

*Dosimont, O.

Red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus) capture and breeding in the equatorial forest of Gabon

Game & Wildlife Science 21 (3, Sp. Iss. SI): 375-385 SEP 2004



African Journal of Ecology 17 (1): 1-18 1979

*Henschel, P, Abernethy, KA, White, LJT

Leopard food habits in the Lope National Park, Gabon, Central Africa

AFR J ECOL 43 (1): 21-28 MAR 2005

Magliocca, F, Querouil, S, Gautier-Hion, A

Seed eating in elephant dung by two large mammals in the Congo Republic

REV ECOL-TERRE VIE 58 (1): 143-149 2003

Oduro, W. 1989. Ecology of the red river hog in southern Nigeria. (Unpubl.) Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Ibadan, Nigeria.

* Tutin, CEG, White, LJT, MackangaMissandzou, A

The use by rain forest mammals of natural forest fragments in an equatorial African savanna

CONSERV BIOL 11 (5): 1190-1203 OCT 1997

*Wu Gui-sheng, Pang Jun-feng, Zhang Ya-ping.  2006.  Molecular phylogeny and phylogeography of Suidae.  Zoological Research; 27(2): 197-201.



Oryx 11 (6): 469 1972

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