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Animal Data > Babirusa

(Babyrousa babyrussa)

Status Distribution Sexually Mature
Vulnerable Sulawesi, Togian, Sula & Buru Islands 1.5 years
Number of Young Gestation Life Span
2 150 days 24 years

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The name babirusa means 'pig-deer'. The tusks are probable useful to the males for fighting. Natives believe that this wild swine hangs by its unique tusks from the branches of trees at night.

The babirusa inhabits moist forests, canebrakes, and the shores of rivers and lakes. It is a swift runner, and often swims in the sea to reach small islands. It lives and travels in small groups.

The babirusa does not root with its snout like other pigs. It feeds on foliage and fallen fruit. Because Sulawesi is a pig paradise of tropical climate and abundant food, the baribusa does not need a large litter to ensure survival of offspring. There are usually two young per litter, produced in the early months of the year.

Threatened by both habitat destruction and excessive hunting, babirusa have declined dramatically. Local people frequently capture young animals and tame them. Wild babirusa are also hunted for their meat, which is popular for wedding feasts.

Main Features

Grows up to a length of 1.4m (including the tail). Skin usually hangs in folds, and is either rough and brownish grey, or smooth with a sparse covering of hair. Two distinactive pairs of curved tusks. The upper ones grow through the top of the muzzle, and curve backwards towards the forehead, sometimes becoming ingrowing.

In Captivity

Marwell has kept a breeding group of babirusa since the autumn of 1992. Founder members came from Jersey Zoo.

Here at Marwell, babirusa are fed on pignuts, oats, bran, fruit, vegetables, bread and oak leaves (in season).

©2009 Marwell Wildlife