The Pig Deer
If you go wandering around the swamps and rainforests of the Indonesian islands, you might venture upon a babirusa known as the pig deer. You will know your new friend due to the barrel-shaped body which balances on delicate, deer-like legs. The most striking features are the animal’s massive, curving tusks. Their color is a brown-gray. They have a small amount of hair covering their skin. They generally grow to 3 to 3.7 feet in length and stand 2 feet tall. Their weight is about 220 pounds. Their tail usually measures 10.5 to 12.5 inches.
The Pig Deer Found 30,000 Years Ago
About 30,000 years ago, human beings, who had colonized Sulawesi, began hunting and eating the babirusas. Today it has been determined that the animals are wild members of the pig family. However, they have significant differences. Their snouts are not as specialized as opposed to other pigs. They have complex two-chambered stomachs more closely related to sheep. It is believed that the pig deer branched off from the remainder of the pig family early in its evolution.
The Diet Of The Babirusas
The animal is omnivorous. It will eat almost anything. This includes everything ranging from fruits and berries to insects and fish. They are even known to eat smaller babirusas. They use their hooves and dig for roots and insect larvae in the ground. They also have the capability of standing on their two back feet to feed on higher leaves.
The Pig Deer As A Baby
Most baby babirusas, referred to as a piglet, have stripes when firstborn. This is to camouflage and help it to escape from predators. It remains dependent on its mother for an extended period. The piglet develops quickly. It wanders from the nest and begins to eat solid food by the time it is ten days old. The mother usually gives birth to one to three piglets per litter. Generally, the deer pig lives to be about ten years old; however, when living in a zoo, they can live beyond 20 years. In a zoo, they become excited when around familiar people. They wag their tail, shake their head, jump and run around.
Pig Deer Tusks
It is unknown the reason for the tusks. It has remained a mystery through time. One belief is that the males use their tusks to fight over the female. However, they do not use their tusks during the fighting; instead, they stand on their hind legs and strike each other with their front hooves. The tusks are also brittle and easily broken, causing them to be worthless for combat. Another thought is that the tusks are perhaps a signal of genetic fitness to impress the female. This idea has not been tested – so, the mystery remains.
If you happen to run into a pig deer, just hope it jumps around from being excited; if it stands on its hind legs, you might be in for some trouble!