Warthogs are actually amazing animals. Even though they may look ferocious, they're actually herbivores, so they don't even TRY to eat the tourists. They're happiest when eating grass and roots. They can also go for a long time without drinking – several months if necessary – so they can survive through the dry season, and don't need to migrate.
These hogs have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers, a type of bird. That means these two animals have a win-win relationship. The birds like to sit on the warthog's back because it's covered with bugs (the birds' favorite snack). The warthog likes to have the birds sit on its back because it wants to get rid of the bugs that are biting it and sucking its blood. We might say these animals are interdependent because they help each other survive.
I must admit that the warthog is the ugliest animal I've ever seen! (No offense, Pumba.) Its head is big and flat. Plus, it has two big "warts" growing from the sides of its head. Add to that the scruffy little hairs growing on a mostly bald head, and tusks that would look better on an elephant, and you've got one….ugly….animal!
The warthogs were more afraid of our safari truck than any other animal. The elephants and lions would mostly ignore us. The giraffes and zebras would look at us cautiously and then walk away. Most of the time, as soon as we were close enough to take a photo, the warthogs would run! Because of this, my few warthog photos are my most prized pictures.
I loved watching these animals. In most cases, that meant watching them run. They are very funny looking! They have these short little legs, on this barrel-shaped body, trying to hold up a huge head. But they can move VERY fast – over 30 miles per hour! To get an idea of how fast this is, YOU try running 30 miles an hour. You can't. So now ask a parent to drive 30 miles/hour while you're in the car, and imagine a warthog running next to you. After you stop laughing at the sight, you'll appreciate how fast this is for an animal with such short legs and such a fat body.
Besides less laughter from the tourists, how do you think the Serengeti area would change if there were no warthogs? Would it make a difference to the ecosystem?