Babirusa are known for their large, curving tusks, particularly those emanating from the upper jaws of male pigs. These enlarged canine teeth actually point upwards, rather than downward like most upper teeth, causing them to puncture through the skin and curve toward the forehead. These tusks grow throughout the creature’s lifespan, so they must be grown down to avoid penetrating the animal’s forehead and harming it. This grinding process is usually accomplished through normal foraging behavior.
The name babirusa means “deer pig” in Malay, and refers to the antler-like tusks as well as the thin, deer-like legs of the animal. While the most well-known species, the Sulawesi babirusa, appears nearly hairless, the three other species have shaggy fur of various lengths. Babirusa can grow up to two feet tall and three feet long, and can weigh over 200 lbs.