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Swine

( Originally Published 1936 )

This group includes two existing families—the Suidae, or Swine, and the Hippopotamidae or Hippopotami. They are non-ruminant animals, with four toes on each foot (or, rarely, three on the hind feet).

FAMILY SUIDAE (SWINE)

The Swine have a long projecting snout, flattened at the end, and covered with a tough skin, used in burrowing in the ground in search of roots, which they use for food. The nostrils are at the extreme end, and the scent is very keen in all species. Pigs are fond of living in burrows, or wallows, which they make themselves in soft or muddy soil. The upper canines are more or less turned up, becoming formidable tusks.

Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

The largest and most powerful of all the Swine is the Wild Boar, found in certain parts of Europe, throughout a great part of Northern Africa and Western and Central Asia. In appearance it is most striking. The body is covered with long bristles, which on the neck and shoulders grow into a stiff up-right mane that is raised when the animal is excited or angry; the head is very large in proportion to the body, the jaws long and capable of inflicting terrible bites; the ears are large and heavily fringed with hair at the edges, and do not droop as in most of the domestic hogs. Unlike the domestic animal, too, the Wild Boar is thin and slab-sided. See Plate 33, Fig. 143.

The Indian Wild Boar (Sus cristatus) grows to a larger size than the European species, and boar-hunting with the spear, or " Pig-sticking," is a favourite sport among the Anglo-Indians. When pursued, the Boar runs at full speed until brought to bay by the hunters, when it will stand facing them, suddenly leap forward and inflict a terrible gash with its sharply recurved tusks, which cut like razors. These tusks work against each other, so that they are always kept keen. Pig-sticking, though popular, is a dangerous pastime, and there are many accidents on record. The Wild Boar feeds chiefly upon roots and fruit, but it is also fond of animal diet, devouring worms, insects, etc., with avidity. In hunting for food the powerful nose is pushed through the ground much in the manner of a plough, and the extremely delicate scent is of great assistance. The young are yellowish, with white stripes running lengthwise of the body.

The domestic breeds of hogs are supposed to have been first imported from China, and local varieties are found in all civilised countries of the world. In most of them the ears lop over or hang down in front of the face, the body is much more sparsely covered with bristles, the legs are shorter, and the animal is wider and without the bristly mane that is present in the wild species. The fattening of domestic hogs and pigs takes place only because of their captivity and artificial feeding, species that run wild being comparatively thin. The use of the flesh of hogs for food has long been forbidden by many religious sects.

The young of the domestic species are not striped, but are usually the same colour as the parent, which may be white, red, black, or black and white. Pigs have a large number of young in a litter, and multi-ply very quickly.

Babirussa (Babyrussa alfurus)

The extraordinary animal known as the Babirussa has many peculiar characteristics, the most marked of which is the upper canine teeth, which grow through the skin of the face half way between the eyes and the end of the nose, coming upward through the fleshy part of the muzzle and turning backward in a graceful curve over the eyes. The lower tusks follow the same line to a great extent on either side of the upper jaw, but do not grow so long, nor are they so sharply recurved. The hide is almost devoid of bristles, and is rather greyish in colour, and heavily creased over the entire body. See Plate 33, Fig. 141. This strange creature inhabits the swampy forests of the islands of Celebes and Borneo in the Malay Archipelago.

In Africa there are several species of wild hogs, among them the Wart Hog (Phacochoerus Ethiopicus) and the Red River Hog. The former is distinguished by the enormously long and heavily-made tusks which project from the upper jaw on either side in great curves, almost meeting over the top of the muzzle, and by the curious wart-like appendages on either side of the face just under the eyes. It is a delicately-built animal, the head is enormously large in proportion to the size, the feet very small, the tail long and tufted at the end. The skin is somewhat like that of the Babirussa, being much wrinkled, and is almost devoid of bristles except on the back, where they are very long and hang in a mane. It is not fond of the water, like most pigs, but lives in bur-rows made by the aardvark, running with considerable speed when pursued and taking refuge in the nearest hole.

The Red River Hog (Potamochcerus Porcus) is so named on account of the brilliant orange-red colour of the hair, which is not bristly as in most of the hogs, but fine and soft in texture. The ears are extremely long, delicate, and heavily pencilled at the tips with long tufts of hair. The tail is long and straight, reaching the ground, and bushy at the end. The Red River Hog has none of the repulsive features of the Wart Hog, and in captivity shows much intelligence.



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