A deer pig or babirusa is a pig-like mammal with tusks that resemble deer antlers. These omnivores consume all parts of the food chain. Many of them call the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Sula, Buru, and Togian home. In the wild, they have been known to live for a decade
So, what is the Babirusa Scientific Name? Its scientific name is Babyrousa celebensis. The North Sulawesi region of Indonesia is home to a distinct babirusa kind. In English, a “deer pig” is called a “babirusa” in Malaysia. They look like pigs but have deer antlers, so their appearance is somewhat confusing. They are mammals, namely the Suidae family.
The babirusa is a genus that includes four different species. Also, there are the following babirusas that aren’t native to North Sulawesi:
- Bola batu babirusa
- Buru babirusa
- Togian babirusa
Babirusas have brown or greyish skin, and their bodies have few hairs. People say that their long, round bodies look like torpedoes. Also, their legs are thin and long, like a deer’s. These animals can grow to be three to three and a half feet long and two to three feet tall. They can also weigh between 132 and 220 pounds. If you put two and a half bowling pins on top of each other, that’s how tall a three-foot-tall babirusa is. Two-thirds of an adult panda bear is the same weight as a 220-pound babirusa. The North Sulawesi babirusa is the heaviest of all babirusa species at 220 pounds.
The tusks of this animal are what most people know about it. It has two tusks on the bottom half of its snout and two on the top half. They are actually canine teeth, even though they are tusks. The babirusa’s canine teeth grow on the top of its snout, break through the skin, and curve up and back toward its eyes. In fact, these curved teeth (called “tusks”) can get so long that they can grow into the animal’s skull and kill it.
Their lower canine teeth (tusks) grow out of their mouths sideways and up. Only the upper half of the snouts of male Sulawesi babirusas have full-sized tusks. Females may have no upper tusks or ones that are very small and short. But both men and women have tusks on the bottom half of their noses.
They live on islands like Togian, Sula, Buru, and Sulawesi, all of which are in Indonesia. The only place in the world where wild babirusas live is on these islands. These mammals live in swamps, rainforests, and other wet places near rivers where the weather is warm and wet. They hide in the bushes and in holes made by canebrakes.
These pigs roll around in the mud to cool off in this hot and humid place. This is also a good way to get rid of any parasites that might be living on their skin. The other interesting thing these pigs do is “plowing.” A male babirusa gets down on its knees and sticks its nose into the sand. The babirusa has its mouth open, and foaming saliva comes out as it eats sand.
This is a strange thing to do, and scientists don’t fully understand why it happens. But people think that a babirusa might be plowing to mark its territory with its scent. Also, these animals can swim very well, so they tend to live near rivers. People have seen them swim a long way from one island to the next.
All kinds of foods can be found in their diets. Most of the time, they will use their hooves to dig holes in the ground to look for larvae or insects. They can use their hind hooves to support their bodies, allowing them to stand on their back hooves. This way, they consume leaves from lower branches of trees.
What does a babirusa eat? These creatures consume a variety of foods, including plants, leaves, fruit, berries, insects, tree bark, and even carrion, as part of their diet. They eat berries and fruit that they find on the ground. Moreover, they do this while also stripping the bark from trees to find insects. They are known to consume carrion, which refers to the remains of dead animals found on the ground. When you ask that question, it all relies on what kind of food source is found in their natural habitat of swamps.
What eats a babirusa? The only known predators of the animal are people and, sometimes, wild canines. Some Indonesians hunt babirusas specifically for the purpose of eating them.
The animal is in a vulnerable conservation status since its number is on the decline. The logging industry is responsible for destroying this mammal’s natural environment, which jeopardizes its survival. Despite the existence of legislation to protect these creatures, poaching continues to be a major threat to them. Some people even go so far as to kidnap young babirusas, tame them, and keep them as pets.
Babirusas have strong hooves with four points on them. They use these hooves to dig. They dig up bugs, bug eggs, plants, and plant roots. Also, when two males are fighting over the same female, they hit each other with their hooves. They stand on their hind legs, bump into each other, and kick their feet. It’s a tough and noisy battle!
People and feral or wild dogs only eat adults. These animals can run up to 30 miles per hour. So when they see a person or a wild dog, these shy animals run away and hide in a swamp or rainforest. Since they live in muddy swamps, their dark skin helps them blend in.
Most men don’t have a partner. On the other hand, female babirusas are social and live in groups of 80 or more. This big group of babirusas is made up of only females and young ones.
Related: SWORDFISH (XIPHIAS GLADIUS)
From January to August, the deer pig is able to mate. Men fight over women, so they have to fight with each other. When fighting for a female, it makes sense that the males would use their upper and lower tusks as weapons. But their tusks can easily crack and break in real life. In fact, when they fight, they will move their heads to the side so that their tusks don’t hit each other.
So, males fight with their sharp hooves and the strength of their whole bodies to see which one is the strongest. The most powerful male has more than one partner.
Some scientists think that the curved tusks on the top of the snout protect the animal’s eyes when it is fighting with other males for females.
The time from conception to birth is 155 to 158 days. A wild boar, which is also in the Suidae family, gives birth after only 115 days. The females have one or two live babies at a time. Each new baby pig also called a “piglet,” weighs between 10 and 15 pounds. Some babies start eating solid foods as early as three to ten days old. But they will probably keep nursing until they are six to eight months old and no longer need to. After you wean them, they can live on their own.
In the wild, these animals can live for up to ten years, but in captivity. Experts see them live for up to twenty-four years.
The tusks of a babirusa pig keep growing the whole time it lives. This is kind of like how a person’s fingernails change over time. Sometimes, a male babirusa’s upper tusks keep growing and curling until one or both of them break through the top of the babirusa skull! Depending on how far the tusk goes into the animal’s skull, this can kill it in the long run.
The IUCN Redlist says that there are 9,999 adults in the Sulawesi babirusa population. Their numbers are going down, and they are Vulnerable in terms of conservation.
There are 1,000 adults in the population of babirusa pigs on the Togian Islands. The number of them is also going down, and they are Endangered. The scientific name for the hairy babirusa is Babyrousa babyrussa. No one knows how many of them there are. This type of babirusa is Vulnerable, and the number of them is going down.
Do Babirusa Tusks Hurt Them?
Tusks on the upper snout of a male babirusa can develop and curve until they reach the top of the animal’s skull. The animal may die from this if the tusk penetrates the brain enough.
How Many Babirusa Are Left In The World?
A total of fewer than 10,000 babirusas remain in their natural environment today.
Do People Eat Babirusa?
Sulawesi, Togian, Sula, and Buru are the original homes of the babirusa in Indonesia. Sulawesi was initially settled by humans around 30,000 years ago. Soon after, the hunting and consumption of babirusas was starting.
Why Is The Babirusa Endangered?
Poaching and destruction of habitat have led to the extinction of the babirusa. The natural habitat of the babirusa and many other native species of Indonesia is being worked to safeguard by conservationists.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.