Taxonomy: Animalia – Chordata – Mammalia – Artiodactyla – Suidae – Sus scrofa.
Common Names: Wild Boar, Wild Pig, razorbacks, European boars.
Localities: Wild boar are found worldwide. Native to the Mediterranean Region,
Central and Northern Europe, and most of Asia. They have been introduced to most other parts of the world, especially the Americas and Australasia originally for hunting, similiar to the introduction of the fox for fox hunting.
In 1493 it was recorded that Christopher Columbus brought 8 hogs to the West Indies, and mid- 16th century importations by Hernan Cortes, Hernando de Soto, 20th century sport hunting stock which may have been the start of the spread in the Americas. As they’ve escaped to the wild, the numbers are phenomenal in areas where they are not naturally habitated booming to a problem in some areas. Reproduction varies from region, leading to an over-abundance to extinction. Wild boards vanished from the United Kingdom by the 13th century, Denmark by the 19th century, and early 20th century in Germany, Austria, Italy, the Sudan, Russia, and Tunisia due to over-hunting. Since escapes from farms occured in Australia-asia, the Americas, and parts of Europe – the wild populations have been booming in some areas.
Wild pigs, also known as wild boar, are a species of pig known as Sus scrofa from the family Suidae. There are many sub-species within his family and is closely related to the domesticated pig found on many farms across the world. The different sub-species can be determined by the relative lengths and shapes of their lacrimal bones. Named “Sus scrofa” by Linnaeus in 1758. “Boar” is the technical naming of the adult male of certain species, but for the “wild boar” reference, it applies to the whole species. The wild boar has a 90-200 centimeter long by 55-110 centimeter tall compact body with dark gray to black stiff bristled fine fur, with a very large head, a 15-40 centimeter long tail, and short legs. On average, the normal wild boar weighs between 50-90 kilograms (upwards of 100-250 lbs, though “mega hogs” have been found weighing close to a 1,000 lbs). Size, color, and weight varies from environmental regions around the planet. Unusually large specimens have been found in the Americas, Russia, France, Tuscany, Romania, and Russia ranging from 400-1000 lbs in weight. The fur becomes denser in winter, and thinner in summer. When not hunting in the early morning, late afternoon, or night they lounge, sleep, and rest. The adult males grow tusks, which are actually very large 6-12 centimeter upper and lower canine teeth protruding from the mouth that are used by the beast as a tool and weapon. These males are often solitary until breeding season. Females however, live in groups of 20-50 individuals called “sounders” and have very sharp smaller canines that do not protrude from the mouth. Males will fight other males for dominance over the females in the sounders based on their testosterone production leading to increased sexual activity peaking in the middle of Autumn. Pregnancy lasts approximately 115 days, where from 1 to 3 days before farrowing the preggie female will leave the sounder to creat a mound-like nest of dirt and foliage to give birth. Delivery takes 2-3 hours with litters of 2-6 piglets remaining in nest for 4-6 days. Sows will rejoin the sounder in 4-5 days cross suckling young amongst the group of lactating females. The baby piglets range in different color sequences, ranging from cream striping to marbled chocolate descriptions until gaining a full adult color by age 6 months. Puberty lasts 8-24 months from birth ranging on nutrition and environment.
Diet: Generally nocturnal, foraging in early morning, late afternoon, or evening they eat just about anything they encounter ranging from nuts, grasses, berries, birds, roots, tubers, insects, small reptiles, and some Australian species known to take down lambs and deer.
Predators & defense: The wild boar’s prime predator is humans. In other areas, they are feeded upon by large cats such as tigers, cougars, and panthers. Wolves and coyotes hunt the piglets though on occasion take adults. Striped hyena also feed on boars in Northwest Africa, he Middle East, and India. Young piglets are preyed upon by pythons and other large snakes, larger birds of prey, various wild felids, alligators, and crocodiles. Larger hogs have been taken by alligators and crocodiles. Some American black bears and grizzlies have been known to take down wild boars for food. If cornered, trapped, or surprised, especially with their young, they will become vicious and defensive. Males lower their heads before charging and moves upwards with their tusks to slash their victim. Females charge with head up, mouth wide open, reading to bite their foreseen threat.
Use by humans: Boar hair from the back of the neck was originally used to create the bristles on toothbrushes until synthetic materials such as plastic replaced it in the 1930s. Boar hair has been also used to make shaving brushes, hair brushes, and paintbrushes. Boar hair paint brushes are best treasured for oil paintings. Boars are farmed for meat, common in restaurants and butcher shops in France and Italy.
Cause and Concern: In the United Kingdom, wild boar were added to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 requiring licenses and permits to raise them. Many were set free, like the giant cats, amongst the countryside leading to myths and legends of giant “mega” hogs terrorizing communities. Eating of boar meat in Japan has been linked to the transmission of Hepatitis E, though not in other countries. “Feral” pigs are known to cause damage to crops, vegetation, trees, destroying ground-nesting bird nests, turtle eggs, and carrying disease. “Feral pigs” have interbred with wild boar creating different sub-species that can become confused. In New Zealand, these are called “tuskers” or “Captain Cookers” as blamed to be descendant from liberations and gifts to the Māori by explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. Feral pigs in the United States were estimated to have caused over 800 million dollars in property damage a year based on 2008 statistics causing “feral hogs” to be labeled an invasive species leading to “shoot on sight” protocol in some parts of the United States requiring no hunting permits or limits.
Folklore and Mythology: Boar meat is considered an aphrodisiac by the Chinese and Laos, as well as other parts of the world. According to Celtic myth, the boar was sacred to the Goddess Arduinna. Boar hunting is rampant in Irish and Celtic myths. To “hunt a boar” was a prestigious form of quarry as a “beast of venery”, and was first harboured or found by a leashed bloodhound called a “limer”, then set upon by a pack of hounds to be cornered for the hunter to take down. Such a grandiose hunt was featured in a medieval poem about “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. The Scotts gave the name “Swinton” to the ancient Lowland Scottish Clan for their bravery and having cleared the area of all wild boar implanting the image into the chief’s coat of arms on the clan crest. The village “Swinewood” in county Berwick was granted to the clan in the 11th century. The Irish tell many tales of Fionn mac Cumhaill (“Finn Mc Cool”) especially when he lured his rival Diarmuid Ua Duibhne to be gored to death by a boar. The Norse have a mythical wild boar named “Gullinbursti” (“Gold Mane” or “Golden Bristles”) featured in their myths. In India, Lord Vishnu’s third Avatar was “Varaha”, a boar featured in Hindu mythology. The Romans featured the wild boar in three of their famous Legions in their emblems, causing fear amongst their foes, such as in “Legio I Italica”, “Legio XX Valeria Victrix”, and “Legio X Fretensis”. A wild boar is the symbol of the city of Milan, Italy. Throughout Europe, Australia, and the Americas, legends of “giant boars” or “Mega Hogs” are rampant across the countryside. The “Beast of Dean” is a popular legend in the Forest of Dean in England about a giant boar that terrorized villagers in the early 19th century. Similiar tales are known in the Australian Outback by both Australian aborigine, as well as white European settlers who introduced the razorback. ” “Mega Hogs” have been purportedly reported in the American southeast. The most famous was “Hogzilla” that was shot in June 2004 in Georgia of the United States of America. This story was investigated by both the National Geographic Explorer and History Channel’s “Monster Quest” which determined the beast was a hybrid of wild boar and domestic swine by means of a autopsy and DNA testing. Monster Quest, a online video documentary by the History Channel designed to dispel and investigate myths of “monsters” living amongst us today, explores the legends and folklore of “Mega Hogs” in the Southeastern U.S. Exploring the tales and sightings, they set a team to hunt out the hogs to record if they do exist or not. These hogs sighted in the Southeastern U.S. are reputed to be of gigantic sizes of prehistoric eras. In 1984, a horror movie called “Razorback” was released about a gigantic wild boar terrorizing the Australian Outback. Legends of Half-human, half-pig or boar abound in urban legends which may or may not have historical roots. These are often called the Hog Man, Pig Man, or Man Bear Pig.
- It is rumored in the southeastern United States that there exists monstrous giant wild boars running wild terrorizing communities. A 1100 pound hog was killed in Georgia. Are they wild or mutant pigs from farms that have escaped? MonsterQuest explores and investigates the victims, the evidence, and tracks them.
1999 – “The feasibility of reintroducing Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) to Scotland”. Mammal Review 29 (4): 239.
2011 – The Guardian: “How the UK’s zoophobic legacy turned on wild boar”. Referenced in 2011.
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