Height: 24 - 30 inches
Length: 33 - 42 inches
Weight: 95 - 220 lbs
Gestation: 127 - 157 days
Offspring: 1 - 3
Life Span: 24 years
Also Called: pig-deer
The babirusa is a creature that looks a lot like a pig, but some scientists think it may
actually be related to the hippopotamus. Its most noticable feature is its hooked tusks,
which are overgrown canine teeth, and really function more like the antlers on a deer,
but they are brittle and can break off easily. It is these tusks that give the babirusa its
name, which means "pig-deer". The skin or hide of the babirusa is mostly hairless and
can range in color from brown to gray, with lighter shades on its undersides and belly.
With this coloration it's easy for the babirusa to blend into the forest's underbrush.
What few hairs it has on its hide are yellowish, white, or gray in color. The babirusa's
body is roundish and sort of torpedo-shaped, and its legs are long and thin. Its tail is
thin and about a foot long. The upper tusks or canines in the males, or boars, stick out
through the upper part of the snout and curve upwards and back towards the head. The
lower tusks stick out of the lower jaw and grow up and back as well, but not to the
degree that the upper tusks do. Both sets of tusks give the male babirusa a very odd
and threatening appearance. They will sharpen the lower tusks by rubbing them on
trees. The tusks of the females, or sows, are not as long or as large.
Babirusa are omnivores, which means they eat mostly fruit, leaves, or grasses, but will
also eat fungi, nuts, insect larvae, or sometimes even small animals (like rodents or
small birds) or more rarely carrion (meat of dead animals).
The bairusa can be found in the tropical forests and canebreaks and on the shores of
the rivers and lakes of Indonesia. However it is a nearly endangered species.
The babirusa doesn't have many enemies, other than wild dogs and humans.
Unfortunately they are hunted by man for their meat, in spite of the fact that they are a
protected species. Due to that fact and the increased loss of places for them to live,
there are only a few thousand babirusa left in the wild.
Because it's a shy and reclusive species, there isn't a lot known about the babirusa.
During the day they will wallow in mud, which helps to rid them of insects and parasites
on their hides. They also like to swim, and are very good at it. At night they forage for
food and graze on grasses. They usually live together in small groups of several adult
females and their young, although sometimes the group may have as many as 15 in it.
Males usually live on their own once they are mature.
Unlike other pig species, the babirusa has only 1 to 3 babies in each litter. During
mating season the males, or boars, will fight one another, often standing on their hind
legs to "box" one another and try to break their opponent's tusks. In the early part of the
year, the baby babirusa are born. The females will make a nest of underbrush and
grasses, where she gives birth to her small litter. The babies will nurse for 6 to 8
months but also start to become more active and will start to forage with the group and
eat solid food within 3 to 10 days. The young babirusa become mature at 1-2 years.
Babirusa rely most on their senses of smell and hearing, both of which are excellent.
They mainly communicate with low grunts or moans, and by clattering their teeth when