Horatio Hedgehog here. Cat has asked the staff to use our space to talk about different types of animals. I chose the warthog. I thought there was something cool about a hedge-hog writing about a wart-hog. Besides, it was the strangest looking animal I could find.
Warthogs hang out in the same savannahs as my wild cousins. I thought that I could get a flight to southern Africa and talk to some warthogs and maybe see the old country. I didn’t know that humans are so fussy about who they let on planes. They only let hedgehogs fly as pets (!) of a human. Then at the end of the flight, they would have made me sit in a cage for 30 days while the human gets to go straight to their hotel!
Since there was no way I was going to subject myself to such treatment, I called the hedgehog embassy in Botswana. The very nice lady set me up with an interpreter who would join the warthogs on Skype so I could talk to them.
Almost immediately, we ran into a problem. Warthogs are incredibly shy. Apparently there was an incident with the wildlife magazine Savannah Animals Monthly. The month that it featured warthogs, there was a picture of a watering hole on the cover. The photography editor had decided that warthogs were too ugly to put on the cover. Since the editor is a dung beetle, I’m not really sure why the warthogs were so humiliated.
So I ended up on a conference call with Asha the warthog and the interpreter. Asha was very charming. Unfortunately she was constantly distracted by her four piglets. Although warthogs are related to domestic pigs, their anatomy limits their litters to four piglets. From the sound of it, that is about three too many.
She said that warthogs find the English name for their species very offensive. They have protective patches of thick skin on their faces, not warts. She asked me to let someone know of their dissatisfaction. Perhaps the President. I told her I would see what I could do. Perhaps it was better that she couldn’t see my face at that point.
Their family group lived on a moist savannah so she gets to spend a lot of time in the water and wallowing in the mud. It’s a wonderful way to stay cool in the hot sun. However, she has a cousin who lives in a dry savannah. That group of warthogs can go several months without water. Asha commented that she didn’t know how her cousin could possibly live without mud as a beauty treatment.
Asha and her piglets spend their days grazing and bathing. Some warthogs eat small animals, but she and her friends are dedicated vegetarians. Don’t want to gain too much wait and start to look like a guy after all.
Warthogs sleep in holes. Asha is proud of her home. It’s a top-of-the-line aardvark dwelling with a thick grass carpet. She brags that her piglets are never cold during the cool nights, unlike the piglets who have to live in do-it-yourself holes.
Asha stressed that her tusks are mainly for show. She would never think of attacking anything. In fact, if any sort of danger approaches she backs into a hole and shows her tusks as a deterrent to the aggressor.
She says that some of the young male warthogs do use their tusks to challenge other young males for a female. Unfortunately the tusks are sharp and the fight may be fatal. She proudly tells me that four males died for her. I tell her she must be a very good-looking warthog. I try not to choke on the words. Asha seems pleased by the compliment.
I ask her whether she has anything she would like to add. She reminds me that she would like me to speak to the President about calling her species something other than warthog. I tell her I will do my best. I don’t mention that our president can’t even speak cat, much less hedgehog.
From Michigan (not Botswana),