Feral pigs are habitat generalists, meaning that they can thrive in a variety of environments. Just like domesticated pigs, feral pigs can eat almost anything. They will eat insects, leaves, grass, mushrooms and other mammals. Because of their adaptable natures, feral pigs are at home in forests, open areas, marshes and even agricultural land.
Feral pigs, known by their scientific name Sus Scrofa, are hoofed mammals that can weigh up to 200 Kilogram. They have short, coarse coats and elongated snouts. Boars have four tusks that grow continuously, which they use to root through the ground for food and defend themselves against predators. They are omnivores, which means that they feed on both vegetation and meat. Feral pigs have poor eyesight but a very strong sense of smell and good hearing, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
Feral pigs generally live in deciduous forests, coniferous and mixed forests, open areas and agricultural land. A deciduous forest is characterised by trees that shed their leaves every year. Coniferous forests contain trees that produce seeds in cones, like the pine tree, and mixed forests contain both seasonally shedding trees and coniferous trees. Open areas, such as pastures and meadows, are defined as flat areas with grass and vegetation eaten by grazing animals, including pigs and cows.
The most common habitat of the feral pig are coniferous and mixed forests because they contain the most food and shelter. A study by Emilia Broberg on the habitat preferences of the wild boar in Sweden shows that one-third of the wild boar population lives on feeding sites. Wild boars generally prefer to eat tree nuts, roots and green plants. They also seek shelter from predators in areas of dense vegetation. Both of these are easily found in the forest.
When they are not foraging for food, feral pigs prefer to rest and farrow in open areas and marshes. Sows choose their farrowing nests, or birthing sites, for their proximity to water, according to Emilia Broberg. Pigs also use marshes for wallowing activities. Because open areas and marshes provide less shelter than forests, wild pigs will usually explore these habitats during the cover of night.
Feral pigs sometimes pose a problem to agricultural farmers, whose crops suffer damage from their rooting habits and trampling. They also prey on vulnerable farm animals such as newborn lambs, according to the Feral website. In addition to these immediate threats, feral pigs also carry dangerous diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, which is highly contagious among cattle and swine and may result in permanent debilitation or death, according to the Aphis website.
- "Habitat preferences by wild boar Sus scrofa in southern Sweden based on clusters of GPS positions"; Emilia Broberg; 2008
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Feral Pig Fact Sheet
- UNL: Home Range and Habitat Use of Feral Hogs (Sus scrofa) on Lowndes County WMA, Alabama
- Feral: Feral Pig or Wild Boar
- Aphis: Foot-and-mouth Disease