Africa's Ugliest Mammal

Warthogs may not be handsome, but the very thing that makes them look ugly actually protects them from predators.
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  • 1 Most people agree that this is the ugliest mammal in Africa.
  • 2Warthog mothers and their piglets often visit mudholes.
  • 3They're one of the only pigs active during the day,...
  • 4...so like the rhino, they need to protect their skin from the fierce sun.
  • 5And protection is part of the reason for that strange, disproportionate head.
  • 6It's rock-hard, a helmet that even a leopard's teeth can't penetrate.
  • 7But it has other uses, too.
  • 8The warthog's muzzle is shaped like a shovel...
  • 9...so it can turn over hard earth for tasty bulbs and roots,...
  • 10...but they often have to get down on their knees to support that heavy armored head.
  • 11No one would call warthogs handsome,...
  • 12...but to add injury to insult, this one's lost an eye,...
  • 13...probably escaping from a hungry lion.
  • 14Fortunately, warthogs are well-armed.
  • 15These tusks are formidable weapons.
  • 16The biggest ones ever seen were two feet long on the outside edge.
  • 17But it's the smaller, lower tusks that are the danger.
  • 18They can be very sharp, and they're the main weapon in attack.
  • 19And what about the warts that give these pigs their name?
  • 20Males have four.
  • 21Females, two.
  • 22They're not really warts, but protective pads of cartilage and gristle.
  • 23In battle, the strategically placed pads deflect thrusting tusks...
  • 24...away from soft parts of the face,...
  • 25...shielding the eyes and mouth.
  • 26For warthogs, an ugly snout can literally be a lifesaver.