The babirusa pig lives in forests and canebrakes near rivers and lakes in Indonesia's Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru islands. Babi-rusa means pig-deer in Indonesian. Its upper tusks remind people of deer. One of the babirusa pigs' ancestors was hippos, not surprising when you look at its hairless, wrinkly, brownish-pink skin.
Babirusa pig behavior and facts
- Males have lower tusks like many other pigs. They sharpen them on trees and stones and use them when fighting other males.
- Babirusa pigs also have curved, upper tusks that poke through the pig's upper snout and curve back toward its forehead. The upper tusks can grow to 12 inches long. Scientists believe they may be used to protect the male's face and eyes when it fights another male.
- Females either lack or have very small upper tusks. Their tusks are usually brittle and loose in their sockets.
- Babirusas do not root under the dirt for food like other pigs. As omnivores, their diet is broad: insects and larvae, fruit, such as mangos, and nuts, mushrooms and leaves.
- They are also different from other pigs because they have stomachs similar to sheep. The stomach has two sacs that help digest fibrous plant material.
From birth to death
- During mating season males fight, often standing on their hind legs to box with each other and try to break the opponent's tusks.
- Gestation: 150 to 157 weeks
- Unlike other pig species that bear large litters, babirusas bear only one or two piglets.
- Piglets nurse six to eight months but also start to forage within three to 10 days.
Babirusa pigs, the Oregon Zoo and you
The Oregon Zoo's two babirusa pigs are twin brothers who live in the Island Pigs of Asia exhibit. Itchy and Scratchy weigh about 180 pounds each and were named for characters on The Simpsons TV show (created by Portland's Matt Groening). Their diet consists of wild herbivore chow, hay, alfalfa, carrots, yams, apples, bananas, greens and browse.
Babirusa pigs are endangered. They live in forests along rivers, the same areas people choose to live in. Logging and expanding human populations mean that their habitat is rapidly disappearing. They're also hunted for meat. Though babirusas have been protected in Indonesia since 1931, their forest homes have not been protected until recently.