Babirusa

 

Scientific name

Babirusa babyrussa

Other names

Pig deer. From the Malay words for hog and deer

Global distribution

Sulawesia, Togian and Sula islands and Buru Islands in the Moluccas

Habitat

Moist forests, canebrakes and the shores or rivers and lakes.

The babirusa is capable of swimming between islands.

Conservation status

Vulnerable and endangered

About 4000 in the wild

Physical characteristics

Body size

male

Head and body length 875-1065 mm

Shoulder height is 650-800 mm

Weight

70 to 100 kg. Females tend to be 30% lighter

Colouring

The skin is rough and brownish grey or smooth and. The underside of the body and inner sides of the legs are sometimes lighter than the rest of the body. The white colouration may extend along the sides of the upper lip. The skin may hang in folds

Hair

There is little hair covering. The body is sparsely covered with short whitish gray to yellowish hairs

Piglet colouring

Piglets are not stripped.

Tail

275 - 320 mm

Babirusa male side

Male face only one upper tusk in this case

Male rear

Babirusa female side

Female face

Female rear

 

The skull of the male Babirusa. Note that the upper canines, penetrate the maxilla bones and curve out over the head, sometimes contacting the forehead. These teeth are quite fragile and are used for display purposes.

Anatomical points

Chromosome number

 

Vertebrae formulae

 

Pecularities

Upper incisors curve upwards and perce the nasal skin.

The snout is grooved

Only two pairs of mammae

Glands

 

Dental formulae

(i 2/3, c 1/1, pm 2/2, m 3/3) x 2 = 34

Behaviour points

Maturing age

In captivity 5-10 months. In the wild probably not before 12 months of age

Mating ritual

 

Seasonal breeding

Early months of the year. Can produce two litters per year

Oestrus period

28-42 days with oestrus of 2-3 days

Gestation period

155 to 158 days

Litter size and lactation

1-2

Lactation

Two pairs of mammae.

Weaning age

Piglets are very precocious. Piglets start taking solid feed by day 10.

Family groups

Small groups or 8 individuals

Cooling behaviour

Wallow in mud. Will swim well

Peak activity

Generally dinural with activity concentrated in the morning. Constructs nests for resting and wallowing.

Lying down sequence typical pig leaning against a wall, front feet first, then hind feet and then holding legs under body or lying flat out of the side

Rub marks the male sharpens the lower tusks on trees.

Diet

Babirusa does not seem to root with its snout, feeds on grass, foliage and fallen fruit.

Grazing

Babirusa at play chasing a Peacock feathers

Drinking male

female

Diseases/

disorders

 

Age

Babirusa may live for 24 years