Less than half of wild warthog piglets ever see their first birthday. So warthog mothers construct elaborate underground burrows in the African grassland to protect her brood from predators like cheetahs, lions and leopards.
Warthogs feed on grasses and seeds during the day. In the clearing, warthogs have a panoramic view of all potential predators. Cheetahs may be on the prowl, looking to steal a piglet for a prize. But the warthogs stay close to more than a dozen escape burrows, and the matriarch knows the structure, size and location of each protective passageway in her home range. Cheetahs won’t often attack these chambers for fear of the warthog’s sharp tusks.
At night, warthogs retreat to the safety of their burrow holes at to rest. Warthog mothers will enter their underground chambers backwards so that her tusks face any potential predator that may try to intrude. Overnight burrows have a single entrance and narrow, deep corridor that leads to an antechamber where the family sleeps.
But even in these shielding spaces, warthogs are not safe – leopards are stronger and more daring than cheetahs. They’ll take on an adult-size warthog, assault a piglet and even attack a burrow.
Follow a warthog family that lives in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in Botswana and learn how the matriarch “Half-Tusk” attempts to protect her piglets from predators.
Queen of the Warthogs airs Tuesday, December 14th at 8 PM et/pt on Nat Geo Wild!
Video Preview: Just as Half-Tusk lets her guard down, a lion sneaks onto the plains and attacks the warthog family, threatening a piglet.