Pigs, also called hogs or swine, are ungulates native to Eurasia collectively grouped under the genus Sus within the Suidae family. The nearest living relatives of the swine family are the peccaries and hippopotamuses.
A pig has a snout for a nose, small eyes, and a small, curly tail. It has a thick body and short legs. There are four toes on each foot, with the longer, middle toes used for walking.
A typical pig has a large head with a long snout which is strengthened by a special bone called the prenasal bone and by a disk of cartilage in the tip. The snout is used to dig into the soil to find food and is a very sensitive sense organ. Pigs have a full set of 44 teeth. The canine teeth, called tusks, grow continually and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.
A female pig can become pregnant at around 8-18 months of age. She will then go into heat every 21 days. Male pigs become sexually active at 8-10 months of age. A litter of piglets typically contains between 6 and 12 piglets.
Pigs do not have functional sweat glands, so pigs cool themselves using water or mud during hot weather. They also use mud as a form of sunscreen to protect their skin from sunburn. Mud also provides protection against flies and parasites.
Pigs are generally considered to be one of the more intelligent animals on the planet, being compared to dogs.
It has been shown that a pig’s mood can be determined by its tail, if the tail is tightly coiled, the pig is happy. If the tail is hanging limp however, the pig is unhappy.
Pigs are omnivores, which means that they consume both plants and small animals. Pigs will scavenge and have been known to eat any kind of food, including dead insects, worms, tree bark, rotting carcasses, excreta (including their own), garbage, and other pigs. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves and grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. Occasionally, in captivity, pigs may eat their own young, often if they become severely stressed.
Feral pigs in Florida, United States, domestic pigs which escaped from farms or were allowed to forage in the wild, and in some cases wild boars which were introduced as prey for hunting, have given rise to large populations of feral pigs in North America. Accidental or deliberate releases of pigs into countries or environments where they are an alien species have caused extensive environmental change.
Their omnivorous diet, aggressive behavior and their feeding method of rooting in the ground all combine to severely alter ecosystems unused to pigs. Pigs will even eat small animals and destroy nests of ground nesting birds.
The Invasive Species Specialist Group lists feral pigs as number 90 on the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species and says about them:
Feral pigs like other introduced mammals are major drivers of extinction and ecosystem change. They have been introduced into many parts of the world, and will damage crops and home gardens as well as potentially spreading disease. They uproot large areas of land, eliminating native vegetation and spreading weeds. This results in habitat alteration, a change in plant succession and composition and a decrease in native fauna dependent on the original habitat.
The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. It is native in woodlands across much of Central Europe, the Mediterranean Region (including North Africa’s Atlas Mountains) and much of Asia as far south as Indonesia, and has been widely introduced elsewhere. It is more distantly related to the peccary or javelina found in the southwestern area of North America.
Wild boars can reach up to 440 lbs. for adult males, and can be up to 6 feet long. If surprised or cornered they may become aggressive – particularly a sow with her piglets – and if attacked will defend themselves vigorously with their tusks.
A feral animal is one that has reverted from the domesticated state to a stable condition more or less resembling the wild.
The difference between the wild and domestic animals is largely a matter of perception; both are usually described as Sus scrofa, and domestic pigs quite readily become feral. The characterization of populations as wild, feral or domestic and pig or boar is usually decided by where the animals are encountered and what is known of their history.
The term boar is used to denote an adult male of certain species, including, confusingly, domestic pigs. In the case of wild pigs only, it is correct to say “female boar” or “infant wild boar”, since boar or wild boar refers to the species itself.
One characteristic by which domestic breed and wild animals are differentiated is coats. Wild animals almost always have thick, short bristly coats ranging in color from brown through grey to black. A prominent ridge of hair matching the spine is also common, giving rise to the name razorback in the southern United States.
The tail is usually short and straight. Wild animals tend also to have longer legs than domestic breeds and a longer and narrower head and snout.
Wild boars live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically contain around 20 animals, but groups of over 50 have been seen. In a typical sounder there are two or three sows and their offspring; adult males are not part of the sounder outside of the autumnal breeding season and are usually found alone.
Birth, called farrowing, usually occurs in the spring; a litter will typically contain five piglets, but up to 13 have been known.
The animals are usually nocturnal, foraging from dusk until dawn but with resting periods during both night and day. This is because hunters are most active during the day. They eat almost anything they come across, including nuts, berries, carrion, roots, tubers, refuse, insects, small reptiles–even young deer and lambs.
A full sized boar is a large, strong animal armed with sharp tusks which defends itself strongly; so hunting has often been a test of bravery.
Currently wild boars are hunted both for their meat and to mitigate the damage they cause to crops and forests. Generally dogs are used, sometimes now wearing Kevlar vests, to track and subdue their quarry, which is then dispatched using a knife, rifle, or bow. In several countries such hunting is a popular recreation, known as pig or hog hunting.
Weiser Weight and Tusk Trophy Wild Boar Record Book, Wild Boar Records are kept by the “Weiser Weight & Tusk” scoring system or “WWT.”
Developing a fair and simple method to score wild boars focused was placed on the most basic and most popular characteristics that all hunters look for in a trophy or “record book” wild boar. These two attributes are body weight and tusk size. Weiser Weight & Tusk is a scoring system to rank wild boars that gives both characteristics “separate but equal” representation.
In using the WWT system, only the weight of the boar and the size of his bottom tusks are figured into the score.
Hogzilla is the name given to a wild hog that was shot and killed in Alapaha, Georgia, United States, on 17 June 2004 by Chris Griffin on Ken Holyoak’s farm and hunting reserve. It was alleged to be 12 feet long and to weigh 1,000 pounds.
Its remains were exhumed in early 2005 and studied by scientists from the National Geographic for a documentary. In March 2005, these scientists confirmed that Hogzilla actually weighed 800 pounds and was between 7.5 and 8 feet long, diminishing the validity of the previous claim. Hogzilla was part domestic (Hampshire breed) and part wild boar.
However, compared to most wild boars and domestics, Hogzilla is still quite a large and extraordinary specimen. According to the examiners, Hogzilla’s tusks measured nearly 18 inches, which was a new record for North America.
Local news media reported that on January 5th, 2007 a 1,100 pound hog was shot in Fayetteville, near Atlanta, Georgia. The shooter was William Corsey, who hung the specimen from a tree in his yard. Neighbors reported that the animal had been seen in the neighborhood several times over the preceding days.
Corsey said he hauled it to a truck weigh station, where he says the hog weighed in at 1,100 pounds. A spokesperson from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that large boars and feral hogs were common in South Georgia, but that no records are kept on them.