Some animals were put on Earth as anti-depressants for humans. Warthogs and mongooses are two of them and it’s impossible not to smile at their antics.
Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) have odd-looking faces and get their name from the four large, wart-like protrusions on their heads. These are fat reserves and used for defence when males fight. Then there are the two pairs of tusks, handy tools to dig out roots and the reason hunters will tell you never to cross paths with an angry warthog (they’re formidable fighters and can inflict severe wounds, especially with the lower pair of razor-sharp teeth). Their aerial-like tails – which have the same function, broadcasting a message to others in a group about exactly where to run in tall grass – are just as comical. But warthogs haven’t done well when it comes to coats. Only sparse hairs cover the body, which make them more susceptible to severe weather conditions and pests such as ticks and fleas.
Enter Mungos mungo, the banded mongoose. Even though warthogs are known to have a somewhat short fuse and could easily squash a mongoose just by sitting on it (male warthogs can weigh up to 150 kilograms), the little creatures don’t back away from an approaching beast.
The secret? The warthogs are after a spa treatment, while the mongooses get a juicy takeaway meal. Not unlike a human during a massage, warthogs really enjoy the quality treatment as a troop of banded mongooses hop on to remove ticks, fleas and other pests from their backs, faces and underbellies.
It’s all very entertaining to watch, but the show’s over pretty quickly once the mongooses have had their fill and the wart- hogs have found relief because although they have a good symbiotic relationship, the little guys know it’s better not to push their luck with a moody hog.
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