Wild pigs include both feral hogs and wild boar. Like domestic hogs, they may be any color. Their size and conformation depend on the breed, degree of hybridization with wild boar and level of nutrition during their growing period. Wild boar have longer legs and larger heads with longer snouts than feral hogs. The color of young boar is generally reddish brown with black longitudinal watermelon stripes. As the young develop, the stripes begin to disappear and the red changes to brown and finally to black. Both the male feral hog and wild boar have continuously growing tusks. Wild boar and feral hogs hybridize freely; therefore, the tern wild pig is appropriate as a generic tern for these animals.
Featured Products for Hog Control and Removal
General Biology, Reproduction and Behavior
Wild pigs are intelligent animals and readily adapt to changing conditions. They may modify their response to humans fairly rapidly if it benefits their survival. Wild boar have a greater capacity to invade colder and more mountainous terrain than do other wild pigs. Feral hogs feed during daylight hours or at night, but if hunting pressure becomes too great during the day, they will remain in heavy cover at that time and feed at night. In periods of hot weather, wild pigs remain in the shade in wallows during the day and feed at night.
The wild pig is the most prolific large wild mammal in North America. Given adequate nutrition, a wild pig population can double in just 4 months. Feral hogs may being to breed before 6 months of age, if they have a high quality diet. Sows can product 2 litters per year and young may be born at any time of the year. Wild boar usually do not breed until 18 months of age and commonly have only 1 litter per year unless forage conditions are excellent. Like domestic animals, the litter size depends upon the sow’s age, nutritional intake, and the time of year. Litter sizes of feral hogs in northern California average 5 to 6 sow. Wild boar usually have litter sizes of 4 to 5 but have as many as 13.
Damage and Damage Identification
Wild pigs can cause a variety of damage. The most common complaint is rooting, resulting in the destruction of crops and pastures. Damage to farm ponds and watering holes for livestock is another common problem. Predation on domestic stock and wildlife has been a lesser problem in North America.
Damage to crops and rangeland by wild pigs is easily identified. Rooting in wet or irrigated soil is generally quite visible, but can vary from an area of several hundred square feet or more to only a few s mall spots where the ground has been turned over. Rooting destroys pasture, crops, and native plants, and can cause soil erosion. Wallows are easily seen around ponds and streams. Tracks of adult hogs resemble those made by a 200 pound calf. Where ground is soft, dewclaws will show on adult hog tracks.
Wild pig depredation on certain forest tree seedlings has been a concern of foresters in the South and West. Wild pigs have destroyed fragile plant communities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other preserves. they have been known to damage fences when going into gardens and can do considerable damage to a lawn or golf course in a single night.
In California, wild pigs have entered turkey pens, damaging feeders, eating the turkey feed and allowing birds to escape through damaged fences. Producers in Texas and California reported that 1,473 sheep, goats and exotic game animals were killed by wild pigs in 1991. Predation usually occurs on lambing or calving grounds, and some hogs become highly efficient predators. Depredation to calves and lambs can be difficult to identify because these smalls animals may be killed and completely consumed, leaving little or no evidence to determine whether they were killed or died of other causes and then were eaten. Determining predation by wild hogs in possible if carcasses are not entirely eaten, because feral hogs follow a characteristic feeding pattern on lambs.
Always be aware of the potential for disease transmission when feral hogs are associated with domestic livestock. Cholera, swine brucellosis, trichinosis, bovine tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease, African swine fever and pseudorabies are all diseases that may be transmitted to livestock. Bovine tuberculosis was transmitted to beef cattle by wild hogs on the Hearst Ranch in California in 1965. Pork that was infected with hog cholera brought into Kosrae Island in the East Carolinas resulted in the decimation of all domestic and feral hogs on the island.