Wild Boar or Wild Pig (Sus scrofa)

WHAT ARE BOARS?  Boars (a type of wild pig) are not native to North America.  They were brought here from Europe, first by the Spanish explorers in the 1500’s (for food) and later in the 1900’s by people who wanted to hunt the pigs for sport.  The wild boars you see today are the great grandchildren of European boars brought here a long time ago.  They are NOT pink with curly tails.  Wild boars are large - sometimes 5 feet long, and weigh up to 300 pounds.  They have stiff black fur and straight tails.  The males (boys) have tusks that curl out of their mouth.  They are not long like an elephant’s tusks, but they are still 2-5 inches long and can really hurt you!  (Girl boars have smaller tusks that don’t stick out much.)  Sometimes wild boars will breed with pot-bellied pigs.  The babies will probably grow up to have black fur and straight tails, but they may have fat bellies and a white stripe on their foreheads. 

 

HOW DO THEY LIVE IN THE WILD?  Boars like to live in forests near streams or ponds.  Since boars don’t have any sweat glands, they must wallow in the mud to cool off.  Wallowing may also help get rid of fleas and ticks.  Boars are fast runners and good swimmers.  In the autumn, they eat forest foods like acorns, hickory nuts, and pecans.  During the rest of the year, boars eat roots, grass, fruits, mushrooms, bugs, eggs, and even dead animals.   If there is plenty of food, the boars will stay in a 10 square mile territory.  They really dig up the ground while looking for roots.  Boars have tough noses, or snouts, which help them dig.  They have an excellent sense of smell and can sniff out underground foods.  Their eyesight is not very good, but they hear very well.  Their ears stand up straight; they don’t flop down like a farm pig’s ears.

WHAT ABOUT BABY BOARS?  Mother boars usually have 1 litter a year, with as many as 14 babies. The mother may build a ground nest of sticks and grass, or just scratch together whatever leaves are on the ground nearby.  Her babies live here for 1 week until they are big enough to follow her around. They are born with light brown fur that has white stripes from head to tail.  Mother boars can be very dangerous when protecting their babies; fathers live off by themselves. After about 45 days, the babies can find their own food, but may still stay with the mother. When they are 4 - 6 months old, they turn a cinnamon brown color.  At 1 year old, they are full-grown and have brown or black fur.  Some keep reddish stripes as adults.

WHY ARE THEY CALLED EXOTIC PESTS?  Since boars are not native (from North America), they are called “exotic” or foreign.  They are called “pests” for many reasons.  When they dig up the ground for roots, they kill many native plants.  When they wallow near the edge of a pond, they tear up the water plants.  This causes the soil to wash away (erosion) because the plant roots can’t hold onto the dirt anymore.  Wild boars get into gardens and eat all the watermelons and peanuts.  They sometimes eat eggs and babies of small native animals, including endangered species, like baby sea turtles.  They may also eat the acorns that native animals, like deer and turkey, need for food.  Boars have very few natural predators.  Because of this, boars are often hunted to keep them from damaging the environment around them.

Resources:

Rue, Leonard Lee III. Complete Guide to Game Animals. USA: Grolier Book Clubs, Inc. 1986.
Whitaker, John O. Jr. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New York: 1993.
"Boar." HYPP Zoology Home Page. Http://www.inra.fr/HYPPZ/RAVAGEUR /6susscr.htm. (1/12/98).
Frankenburger, Bill. E-mail interview. (3/5/99, 4/8/99).

Provided by the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve
http://pelotes.jea.com

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