Wondernose: What mammal is named after a pig and a deer?

by Kevin Shank | Mar 1, 2023 | 0 comments

Babyrousa pig-deer fighting
Pig-deer (babyrousa). Photo © iStock.com.

I couldn’t resist it. Having discussed an animal that is not a deer, yet is named after a deer and a mouse (November 2022), I thought we should take a look at this one too. It’s not a deer either, yet some people call it a deer, and…

You guessed it, Wondernose. It’s called a pig-deer (also deer-pig). What next? First a mouse deer, then a pig-deer—when neither of them is truly a deer! Mind you, “pig-deer” is not the scientific name; that’s babyrousa. Since I have no idea what that name means, it makes no more sense to me than “pig-deer.” There are several species of babyrousa.

Why anyone would want to call this ugly animal a deer is beyond me. The wrinkled gray hairless skin of the North Sulawesi species is rather like a hippopotamus. Its head is tapered and small compared to the rest of the body.

And the males have tusks! You won’t see tusks quite like this on any other animal. Both the upper and the lower canines grow upward. This means that the upper canines actually pierce the skin of the snout, then grow backward till they practically touch the forehead. Some of these weird tusks are up to 17 inches (43 cm) long! If the lower canines also get quite long, what you’ll see is an animal with four tusks growing up over its face.

Babyrousa live only on some Indonesian islands. Their favorite habitat is jungles and woodlands. Natives sometimes domesticate the pig-deer; apparently their flesh makes good eating.

You wonder how big these animals are? They’re about 2 feet (60 cm) high at the shoulder and weigh around 220 pounds (100 kg).

Let’s take a look at other wild pigs. These animals live in many parts of the world. Many wild boars are blackish or brown, and their hair is very bristly. Guess what these bristles are good for. That’s right. They make the finest paintbrushes.

Then there are the peccaries of South America. Well, actually, some of them are found in the southern United States too. Peccaries, although they look rather like slender hogs, are not considered true pigs. The collared peccary is the best-known kind. It’s named for the white ring in its collar area. These animals are about 20 inches (50 cm) high and weigh approximately 50 pounds (up to 30 kg).

Shall we also mention the warthog of Africa—the world’s ugliest pig? In fact, some people would say there is no uglier creature on earth than the wart hog. Such a long, scoop-shaped face! Such ugly warts on either side of the nose! Such tiny eyes sunk in wrinkled bags of skin! And, of course, to complete the repulsive picture, two pairs of upward-growing tusks.

There are other wild pigs in the world, but I think we’ve heard enough, Wondernose.

Warthog. Photo © Jonathan Pledger/Dreamstime.com.

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