The Warty Wallow!!!- Article by Gareth Jones
The Warty Wallow Of The Nairobi National Park
Walter Warty awoke with an oinky grunt, and mumbled to his dear wife Wartilda “Mmmm! snork… snort… snork…how about us going to the Athi Health Spa this morning for full mudpack treatment?” Wartilda squealed with delight and quickly gathered her four little piglets. The family soon emerged from the tunnel of their subterranean home and trotted over the dry dusty plains. They briefly stopped at her sister’s elaborate burrow to encourage her to join them with her 2 little piglets. After stopping here and there for some tasty root breakfast snacks, they eventually arrived at the Athi dam. Then Walter stopped suddenly as did the rest of the family, as they looked at the strange creature situated near their favourite mud pool. One of the piglets grunted to Walter “What is that shiny thing, daddy?” Then Waltilda gave the answer “My child it is one of those grumble-shines, they have a strange smell and are mostly filled with untrustworthy humans!!!”.
I sat waiting patiently as a family of warthogs approached a mud pool at the end of the Athi Dam, they froze nervously for a few minutes, while they seemingly decided if my parked vehicle was a threat or not. Then as if by adult warthog approval, they all moved down to the mud pool and proceeded to enjoy themselves by rolling in the mud. Soon most of their bodies were covered in glistening wet mud. It is interesting to note that warthog use mud as a barrier against parasites and also protection from the sun as a sort of barrier for temperature regulation.
After Walter and his family had wallowed in the mud bath for a while, he turned and complimented his wife Wartilda and told her that the mud spa treatment really made her look wonderfully piggy. The piglets also enjoyed the muddy moments as they playfully splashed and chased each other. All too soon, Walter gave the instruction for the family to leave, and grunted to Wartilda “Oink oink, what a wonderful time we had, we must return and repeat the spar treatment tomorrow!”
Their name comes from the ‘warts’ or protrusions on the sides of their face, these protrusions are a combination of bone and cartilage. It protects their face when they fight. Although they can excavate, warthogs normally use holes dug by other animals, like aardvarks. They sleep and rest in holes. The shelter holes provide is important for their thermoregulation — having neither fur nor fat, this species lacks both protection from the sun and insulation from cold. Sometimes, they will fill the holes with grass for warmth. Warthogs are an important part of the Lion and Leopard diet when migrating herds are absent. However, the males, in particular, can grow quite big and have large
sharp tusks for defence. They can be very aggressive when defending themselves, and there are cases of predators getting injured.
As we drove away I wondered how long it would be for this warthog family to remain as it is before one of them become dinner? Hopefully, they will continue to escape being on the big cat “menu” and still be able to enjoy regular wallowing treatment in muddy places like the “Athi health spar”.