Common name: Babirusa

Scientific name: Babyrousa babyrussa

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Suidae

Genus: Babyrousa

Species: B. babyrussa

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Have you ever heard of a babirusa? I'm guessing you have not. They are the type of animal you will not usually see around. It isn't found in the United States. If you have ever seen a pig, you have an idea of how a babirusa looks. A Babyrousa babyrussa is mainly identified as a pig. Some people may call it a pig-deer because it has huge tusks that can grow to touch its head like a deer's antlers. Male babirusas are larger than females. They have upper and lower tusks. Their upper canines, which are sharp-pointed teeth next to its front cutting teeth, do not go through their mouth cavities. Instead, their canines grow in a curved position and enter through their snouts. A male's tusks may grow up to 30cm. Female babirusas may have small canines or none at all. Their tusks can be easily broken and are insecure in their sockets. Female tusks are worthless offensive weapons, but sometimes when they're fighting they can help cover their face. An adaptation they have is their tusks because they could use them to defend themselves or to catch their prey with them. A babirusa's head and body length can grow approximately to 85-110cm. Its thin, skinny tail can grow as long as 20-32cm. Their height may range from 65-80cm from shoulders. A babirusa can weigh from about 94.6 to 220 pounds. They are round like a pig and have long, skinny legs. Their skin is a brownish gray color, but sometimes it can differ. They sometimes may have a couple of dark bristles, and also may have some wrinkles in their skin. Yellowish, spiny little hairs grow on their skin. Their ears can be really small, but they have good hearing.

 

It is said that males are solitary and females live in groups with their children. A babirusa can start giving birth when they're only two years of age. When they mate a male stands on its back legs and tries to break the female's tusks. Babies can be born after a gestational period which could be 150-157 days or just five months. When baby babirusas are born they can come out in twos or threes. They have to be nursed regularly for about 6 to 8 months, but what is amazing is that they can start eating solid foods at three through ten days old. They nurse off their mothers pair of mammae. They can grow up to be 24 years old in their life.

 

A babirusa commonly lives in Indonesia. Sulawesi, the Togian Island is where they are located. Buru Island in the Moluccas is an area where they could be spotted too. They mostly prefer to live in wet, moist areas. For example, they live near a shore of a lake or river located in rainforests and forests. What they do in their daily life is staying full of power in the early, fresh morning. They form in groups of mainly eight and travel. Sometimes they travel the same paths they already passed by. Babirusas are capable of swimming to very far distances. The reasons they swim is to land on small outcropping or islands. Babirusas spend their day in mud wallows. They get rid of dried mud in these wallows. Parasites are rubbed off their skin because they scratch them off on trees after they get rid of the dried mud. Babirusas do well in the ecosystem they live in because they blend into the bushes to hide away from predators. There approximately is 4000 babirusas across the islands in which they are located. In the Togian Islands, there are 500 to 1000 specimens. Babirusas are actually shrinking. It seems as if the law of protection in Indonesia created since 1931 hasn't been accomplished. Some of the causes of their distinction are because humans hunt them down for food. Also contributing to the shrinking of babirusas is their own losses of habitat. Sometimes they can actually be eaten by domestic dogs. In a captive population of babirusas, there are about half of the specimens kept in the Surabaya Zoo located in Indonesia. These animals are most likely seen unsafe by the Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In some areas, people are still contributing to protecting this species. Two places located in the Buru rainforest are protecting the babirusas. These areas are Gunung Kelpat Muda, Waeapo, and Taliabu, Pulau Taliabu. Some are threatened, creatures.

 

Babirusas are known to be omnivorous, which means they can eat both animals and vegetables. Their diet consists of fruits and they will also eat nuts. Insects and their larvae are the main meat source they would actually eat. Mangos are like cake to us, they're especially fond to it. Mushroom sand leaves are eaten by this species too. Like many pigs babirusas differ when it comes to picking up their food. They don't dig below the dirt because of their tusk's placement. They really don't have any competition for food. Like I said before they are omnivorous mammals. They are not the type of animals that have many predators. Babirusas evolved from a free predator from a fly that gets eaten by a frog on a daily bases. Well, they can't evade from being eating because there is nobody to eat them. One thing they have to look out for is people that are hunting for them with nets. People are basically the reason they have been shrinking not predators.

 

There are many interesting facts about the babirusa. For example, having some scientists say that they have descended from the hippopotamus family than the pig family. Also, another interesting fact is that a dead babirusa is given to a person as a gift from the Indonesian people. One fact that caught my eye was that Indonesian people make masks based the babirusas looks. Finally, the last fact I found interesting is the Indonesian people's theory of the babirusa. The theory states that male babirusas sleep with their tusks hanging from up a tree, but that is not true it's just a theory. I learned much information on the babirusa. I had never heard of it before, but now I basically know the main ideas of a babirusa.

 

Author: Sonia A

Published: 2/2009

 

Sources: Burnie, David. Animal. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2001. http://www.bbc.co.uknaturewildfactsfactfiles547.shtml http://animaldiversity.ummz.ymich.edu/site/accounts/information/Babyrousa Babyrussa.html http://indonesiafirst.com/babirusa-babyrousa-babyrussa/ http://www.eol.org/pages/328330 http://www.iucnridlist.org/details/2461 http://www.thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Artiodactyla/Suidae/Babyrousa/Babyrousa-babyrussa.html

 

Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hirscheber1a.jpg