Wild Boar or Wild Pig (Sus scrofa)

HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION: Wild boars 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 the 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 tusks like an elephant’s, but they are still 2-5 inches long and can really hurt you! Sometimes wild boars will breed with pot-bellied pigs. The babies will grow up to have black fur and straight tails, but they may have fat bellies and a white stripe on their foreheads.

HABITAT, SENSES, AND FEEDING: 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. They are fast runners and good swimmers. Boars like to live in oak forests so they can eat acorns in the fall. Hickory nuts and pecans are also favorite foods. During the rest of the year, boars eat roots, grass, fruits, mushrooms, bugs, small birds, rabbits, eggs, and even dead animals. If there is plenty of food, the boars will stay in a 10 square mile territory. But if the deer and turkey eat the acorns, or if there just weren’t many acorns that year, the boars may travel 50 miles to find food. 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 even find food underground. Their eyesight is not very good, but they hear very well. Their ears always stand up straight; they don’t flop down like a farm pig’s ears.

 

REPRODUCTION: Boars have more babies each year than any other large mammal in North America. They can have 3 litters each year with up to 14 babies each time. After 3 months, the babies are weaned (can find their own food), but may still stay with the mother. The fathers live by themselves. Although mother boars do not have tusks, they are still dangerous when protecting their babies. The mother builds a stick and grass nest on the ground. Her babies live there 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. When they are 4- 6 months old, they turn a cinnamon brown color. At 1 year old, they are full-grown and have black fur.

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 erosion (when the land washes away) because the plant roots can’t hold onto the dirt anymore. Wild boars get into gardens and eat all the corn and potatoes. They kill and eat small native animals, including endangered species, like baby sea turtles. Also, they eat the acorns that 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).

National Park Service. "Exotic Species in the National Park Species." Http://www.aqd. nps.gov/facts/fexotic.htm. (1/12/98).

Smoky Mountain Mall Home Page. "Wild Hogs." Http://www.smokymtnmall.com/mall/whogs.html. (1/12/98).

Provided by the E. Dale Joyner Nature Preserve at Pelotes Island

St. Johns River Power Park, Jacksonville Electric Authority, Florida Power & Light

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