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Wild Boar

(Sus scrofa) Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

Classification

The scientific name of the wild boar is Sus scrofa. It belongs to the Class-Mammalia, Order-Artiodactyla, Suborder-Suiformes, Family-Suidae, Genus-Sus, and Species-scrofa. The species name scrofa is also Latin, and means, "breeding sow"

Description:

Adult Boar males over 2 years old average 180 pounds, and female average 155 pounds. Maximum measurements of wild boar include the following: The weight of fully matured feral boars will vary from 200 pounds to over 700 pounds. True Wild Boar or Russian Boar will weigh around 400 pounds when fully grown (4 - 5 years of age). The domestic breed line of the animal determines the weight of the wild feral hog.

Shoulder Height 34 inches

Hip Height 34 inches

Chest Girth 52 inches

Body Length 5.5 feet

Ear Length 5.5 inches

Skull Length 17 inches

Tusk Length 4.75 inches

Tail Length 10 inches

Terms:

The term hog covers any age, status or gender of animal.

A boar is a mature male hog.

A barrow (shortened to bar) is a castrated boar.

A sow is a female that has reproduced.

A gilt is a female that has not reproduced.

A shoat (shote) is any young hog that has been weaned.

A pig is any unweaned baby hog.

And a piglet is only the very young baby hog.

The Wild Boar (Sus Scrofa), also called Feral Hogs, have been established in North America since 1539, when the first European settlers brought them to Florida as domestic pigs. It is also believed that Hernando de Sota to the Atlantic Coast of Florida brought the first true Boars to the United States in 1539. Another race of wild pig, the European Wild Boar, was released in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee in the late 1800s and 1900s for the purposes of hunting. Actually, there are three types of wild hogs found in the United States: feral hogs, Eurasian wild boar (Russian) and hybrids between these two types. The hybrid of the wild boar of course is a cross between the feral hog and the Russian wild boar. Webster's dictionary defines feral as: having escaped from domestication and become wild. Hence, all feral hogs in the U.S. up until the 1930's were from domestic stock.

The First "Pure Russian" wild boar was brought into the US by Austin Corbin. Wild boars were released into a 20,000-acre enclosure in Sullivan County New Hampshire in 1890. The pure Russian boar is generally light brown or black with a cream or tan color on the tips of the bristles. The wild boar underside is lighter in color and its legs, ears and tail are darker than the rest of the coat. The wild boarís bristles are the longest of the three types of wild hogs. Pure Russian boars have longer legs and snouts and their head to body ratio is much greater than a feral hog. The wild boars also tend to have shorter, straighter tails.

European wild boars have several distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from domestic or feral hogs. Among these are brown to blackish brown color, with grizzled guard hairs, a mane of hair (8-16 cm long) running dorsally from the neck to the rump, a straight heavily tufted tail, and ears covered with hair. The color of adults European wild boars Coats coloration patterns can vary from solid black, brown, blond, white, or red to spotted (various combinations of black, white, red, and brown) or belted. A belted European wild boars has a white band across the shoulder and forelimbs. Characteristics of feral boars are varied, depending upon the breed of the ancestral stock. European wild hogs and feral hogs interbreed readily, with traits of European wild hogs apparently being dominant.

The wild boar is bigger and heavier in the shoulders than in the hips. The wild boar longer hairs forming a partial mane grow along the spine of the neck. The wild boar ears are pointed and heavily haired. The wild boar tail is tipped with long hair. The wild boar has well-developed canine teeth that grow continually are found on both sexes. These canines or "tusks" can become very sharp and grow to a length as long as 4-3/4 inches or greater. There is sometimes a white blaze on the head and/or the snout. At birth, the piglets are light brown with six brown and five black stripes on each side. These stripes are usually gone by the end of four months. These pigs can live up to six years in the wild, and they can grow to about 250 pounds.

Reproduction:

The Male wild boar reach sexual maturity at approximately nine months of age and females as young as seven months. Under ideal conditions, the sows start to breed at six or seven months, and can produce up to two litters a year with up to 10 piglets each. The Wild Pig can breed year round. Mating usually begins around October and runs through February. The gestation period is 115 days. . The heat period is only about 48 hours. The average litter of a feral wild sow is 4-6. The sex ratio at birth is approximately 5050.This depends greatly on the breed of the feral hog and the food availability. Feral sows which have just escaped or feral sow that retain much of their domestic breeding will have larger litters. Weaning takes place at 3 months and independence at 6 months old. The wild sow is sexually mature when 1 year old, the male when 18 months or 2 years old. Young wild boars are born with Yellowish-brown coats with distinct dark stripes along the back providing camouflage coloring.

Range:

Feral Hogs are found in around 19 states now. The state with the largest population is Texas, with Florida, California, Colorado Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky in a close second. Wild Pigs can be found in certain areas of the costal plains and Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. They are locally common in mountainous and forested bottomland areas of the southeastern United States The original range of wild boar was Eurasia and North Africa - from Ireland to Japan and southern Scandinavia to Egypt. The feral hog has been very successful in expanding its range and increasing its numbers. Wild boar success can be attributed to several factors: free ranging method of husbandry; its introduction and reintroduction by hunters; water development in arid areas; improved range condition through better livestock grazing practices; and the wild boars ability to reproduce quite rapidly. Feral hog populations have also benefited from increased disease control in the domestic livestock industry.

Tusks/shield:

A boar has four continually growing tusks that can be extremely sharp and may reach five inches before they are broken or worn from use. A wild boarís tusks are used for defense and to establish dominance during breeding. A male feral hog also develops a thick, tough skin composed of cartilage and scar tissue on the shoulder area, which is sometimes referred to as a shield. The shield covers the hog, beginning from the neck to the last rib. This shield is generally about 1 inch thick but can be more than 3 inches thick and is found mainly on the boar. Its purpose is to protect the boar during battles with each other. Tusks, which are found on the lower jaw, or mandible, can be extremely dangerous when put to use by a mature boar. The upper tusks, or whitters, help keep the lower tusk extremely sharp.

Senses:

Wild Hogs have a very highly developed since of smell which will match or even rival that of other competing wild life. Wild boar sense of hearing is also highly developed. Wild boar sense of eyesight is severely under estimated according to Universities who have studied wild boar and me and others who have raised wild boar. Wild boar are at a disadvantage when it comes to sight because of the low profile. Wild boar can't raise their heads high like a deer or other wild animals to see over grass or vegetation. According to many studies Hogs are very intelligent. Undoubtedly they are the most intelligent animals in the woods. Any hunter or trapper who hunts wild boar specifically can easily make note of this fact.

Predators:

Another possible ally we have to aid in the control of feral hogs is the coyote. Piglets and small hogs can provide an excellent dinner for a coyote. There are known instances of an increase in the coyote population as feral hog populations increase. However, the extent that the coyote can control a hog population remains to be documented. Owls and bobcats also have been reported as predators of piglets and small pigs. In other parts of the U.S., mountain lion and black bear are also known predators.

Disease & Depredation:

The feral hog has received a lot of credit for various disease and depredation problems but is sometimes wrongly accused due to the destructive nature of some of their other activities. Feral hogs, like all animals, are susceptible to many infectious and parasitic diseases but probably cause more problems through rooting, wallowing and depredation. However, if caution is not used when handling Wild boar or when feral hogs are around domestic livestock, disease can be a problem. Disease and depredation, which are already problems in some areas, will only increase as Wild boar populationís increase.

Habits:

Good feral hog habitat in timbered areas consists of diverse forests with some openings. The presence of a good litter layer to support soil invertebrates and/or the presence of ground vegetation affording green forage, roots, and tubers is desirable. Wild boar is also fond of marsh and grass-sedge flats in coastal areas, particularly if wild grapes are common. During hot summer months, "wallows," or depressions dug in the mud by feral hogs, are much in evidence near marshes or standing water, such as along roadside ditches. On the Texas coast, feral pigs eat a variety of items, including fruits, roots, mushrooms, and invertebrates, depending on the season. The major foods in spring are herbage, roots, invertebrates, and vertebrates. Fruit, invertebrates, and herbage are most common in fall and winter diets. Herbage eaten by feral pigs includes: Black Walnut, Blueberry, Bluegrass, Fern, Christmas Fern, Chufa, Clover, Corn, Dwarf Milo, Fescue, Grapes, Greenbrier, Hawthorn, Hemlock, Hickory, Huckleberry, Oats, Orchard, Grass, Partridge Berry, Pitch Pine, Pokeweed, Thorne Apple, Turnip, Velvet Grass, Wheat, White Pine, White Snakeroot, Wild Sweet Clover, Wild Yam, Wood Frog, Yellow Violet Blackberry,, Apple, Acorns, Hickory nuts. Roots, Unidentified Vegetation, Grape Seed, Skins Grasses, Lichens, Hemlock needles, Huckleberry leaves, Pine Needles, Ashe Seeds, water hyssop, pennywort, frog fruit, spade leaf, onion, and various grasses while important roots used for food include bulrush, cattail, flat sedges, and spike sedges. Animal matter ingested by feral pigs includes earthworms, marsh fly larvae, leopard frogs, snakes, amphibians, reptiles, rodents, and even newborn fawns of the whitetail deer. Wild boar can have detectable influences on wildlife and plant communities as well as domestic crops and livestock. Extensive disturbance of vegetation and soil occurs as a result of their rooting habits. The disturbed area may cause a shift in plant succession on the immediate site. Wild boar also competes, to some degree, with several species of wildlife for certain foods, particularly mast.

Summary:

Wild boar represent many unknowns to biologists, wildlife managers, landowners and hunters, and as one biologist so precisely put it, "feral hogs are an ecological black box." Wild boar in some areas have been credited with the perceived decline of the quail population, yet there are other areas where quail numbers are high and feral hogs are everywhere. Wild boar also receive credit for having a significant impact on wild turkey nests, various plant species and entire ecological systems. However, the actual effect hogs have on our environment remains unknown. More research and practical knowledge are needed to give us a better understanding of the feral hog and its influence on game and non-game species as well as the environment and its ecosystems. We do know Wild boar can harbor and transmit some diseases and parasites to livestock and humans. We know Wild boar can have a significant negative impact on some livestock operations through depredation and damage to facilities and fences. Farmers also share a significant portion of the damage caused by the rooting of fields and depredation of crops. Wild boar provide excellent table fare, represent a challenging game species to pursue with weapon or dog, and compete with the white-tailed deer in some areas as the most popular animal to hunt. As mentioned, there are many pro's and con's regarding the status of Wild boar and there always will be as long as we have biologists, farmers, ranchers, hunters, and of course, the Wild boar.