Feral Hogs, Wild Boars
Wild Boar Breeds
Many characteristics differentiate Eurasian or Russian wild boars from feral and domesticated hogs and pigs. However, wild boars are the ancestors of domesticated pigs and will thus breed with them. Because of the interbreeding it is often difficult to determine the purity and extent of wild boar populations and of individual boar. According to britishwildboar.org however, as a general rule wild boar can be thought of as originally inhabiting most of Europe, Russia, North Africa and Asia. Feral pigs on the other hand, which are classified as escaped domesticated swine or wild swine from domestic ancestry, occupy Australia and New Zealand as well as the United States. Hybrids between the wild boar, feral pigs, and domesticated pigs exist. These can include hybrids between feral hogs and wild boar, feral hogs and domestic swine, as well as hybrids between wild hogs and domestic pigs although the feral and wild hog combination seem to be the most prominent among hybrids. The interbreeding can sometimes make distinction between different sub-species difficult.
Wild Boar Characteristics
This being said, wild boars have some key physical traits that distinguish them from domestic and feral hogs. The Russian wild boar generally has a light brown, red brown, black or dark grey coat that has a lighter cream color on the tips of the bristles although, “a rare white phenotype is also possible, and an even rarer pale coat spotted with black” (britishwildboar.org) is also possible. The legs, ears and tail are darker than the rest of the coat and their bellies lighter. True or pure Russian wild boars are much larger both in height and weight than feral hogs. This is especially true for their legs and snouts, and can often be distinguished visually based on a much greater head to body ratio when compared to other species. They also have smaller ears and shorter, straighter tails, which are tufted at the end. Their bristles are longer as well. They have a keen sense of hearing and smell but their eyesight is weak because they cannot raise their heads very much to see over vegetation. Two prominent and distinguishing features that differentiate wild boars from domestic ones are the four continually growing tusks they have, which are used for fighting, and longer hair bristles which run from the head along the center of the back and can be raised a few inches from the body when the animals are agitated or excited. The tusks, which are also found in wild hog in the United States and Europe, grow from the upper and lower canines and curve upwards. The top tusks are hollow and act as a means of continual sharpening for the lower tusks, which makes them very sharp. They can grow up to 5 inches. The upper tusks are absent in females. Wild boar also display what wild boar co-op ltd. refer to as an “ ‘uphill’ appearance.” This means there hind legs are noticeably shorter than their front. Mature Russian wild boars can have shoulders heights or roughly 40 inches. Mature males can be between 350 and 500 pounds (normally around 400) and the females up to 400 (normally around 300) whereas feral hogs can be between 200 and 700 pounds. Another feature that distinguishes young wild boar are their yellow brown coats that have very distinct dark stripes running along the back that provide camouflage.
The Feral Hog Diet
With regards to diet, Eurasian wild boars can and will eat a wide variety of different food sources. To provide an idea their diet can include seeds, roots, tubers, fruit, nuts, carrion, eggs, insects as well as many other things. In many instances the fact that wild Eurasian hogs have such a varied diet coupled with their increasing numbers and wide demographic cause them to be considered pests with regards to farmland. According to one study done of Eurasian wild hogs inhabiting parts of rural Pakistan the hogs were the number one vertebrate pests of several different crops. The study done by Joe E. Brooks and Ejaz Ahmad called “Status of the Eurasian Wild Boar in Pakistan” reported the following about the diet of wild Eurasian pigs as well as their impact on local agriculture. “We surveyed damage by the Eurasian wild boar to sugarcane, wheat, and maize in Faisalabad District and to groundnut in Rawalpindi, Attock, and Chakwal Districts in northern Punjab, Pakistan. In these areas, wild boars were the most important vertebrate pest in sugarcane, wheat, and maize, causing more damage than rats, porcupines, or rose-ringed parakeets.” These claims are supported by the 2 tables below showing the break up in terms of percent of over 500 wild Pakistani hogs’ diet as well as the percent damage wild hogs had inflicted on a number of different crop types.
Wild Boar Works Cited
Goulding, Martin. (2011 November 18). Defra and Wild Boar. Retrieved from http://www.britishwildboar.org.uk/index.htm?defra.html
Brooks, Joe E., Ahmad Ejaz. (2011). Texas Natural Wildlife. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
Wild Boar Co-op Ltd. Retrieved from http://www.oocities.org/interlakewildboar/meat.htm
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