Wild swine, Eurasian wild pig, Ryukyu Islands wild pig
The Wild boar has a rather extensive natural range, covering forests of Europe, north-western Africa and Asia. This wild pig is the ancestor of the contemporary domestic pig. The Wild boar is capable of adapting and living in a wide range of environments. This omnivorous mammal consumes nearly any type of food that it's able to accommodate in its mouth. The Wild boar is an excellent swimmers and a very fast runner.
The Wild boars are commonly found and abundant animals, occurring throughout the globe, except for Antarctica. The natural habitat of this species covers parts of Europe and Asia. Additionally, the Wild boars have been introduced to South and North America. Currently, these animals are considered invaders throughout the southeastern United States and California. Preferred types of habitat are grassy savanna areas, wooded forests, agricultural areas, shrublands and marshy swamplands. Overall, Wild boars live in areas with a constant source of water and dense vegetative cover to serve them as refuge from predators.
Habits and lifestyle
As a nocturnal mammal, the Wild boar is active during the night, when it leaves its shelter to find food. This animal spends as much as 12 hours per day sleeping in a nest, constructed out of leaves. Females of this species exhibit a social behavior, forming so-called "sounders" - loosely organized groups of 6 - 30 individuals. Each of these units is composed of breeding females and their offspring. Two or more groups may occasionally share the same area without mixing each other. Male Wild boars tend to lead solitary life during the most of the year. They socialize only in the reproductive season, during which they frequently occur near sounders as well as territories of other breeding males. The communication system of these animals includes vocalizations such as growls, which express aggression. They also use squealing calls, typically when excited or to display friendly attitude.
herd, singular, sounder
Diet and nutrition
As an omnivorous species, the Wild boar consumes food of both plant and animal origin. The diet of these mammals is generally composed of plants such as crops, fruits, nuts (mast), roots and green plants, supplemented with bird eggs, carrion, small rodents, insects and worms. Additionally, the Wild boar has been known to hunt on livestock such as small calves or lambs.
Wild boars exhibit a polygynous mating system, where each breeding male defends its mating rights. The winning male will mate with females in a sounder. Breeding occurs year-round. Gestation period lasts for 108 - 120 days, yielding a litter of 4 - 6 piglets. Young are born in a nest, located among dense vegetation and constructed out of leaves, grass and moss. During the first 2 weeks, the female is almost constantly with her young to protect them from potential predators. At about 2 months of age, young boars start coming out of the nest to feed. Independence is reached within 7 months. Male Wild boars are ready to breed at 2 years old, whereas females are reproductively mature at 1 year of age.
The population of Wild boars as a whole is not currently facing any serious threats. However, various localized concerns negatively affect populations of this species. In many parts of their range, these mammals heavily suffer from destruction of their natural habitat. They are also threatened from large-scale hunting for consumption, sport and as pests (especially near human settlements). And finally, these animals are exposed to different contagious diseases, resulting in high numbers of mortality.
According to IUCN, the wild boar is abundant and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. As reported on the IUCN Red List, the Khentii and Khangai Mountain regions of Mongolia hold a population of 34,000 Wild boars (data of 1989). A research, conducted by the Estonian Environmental Agency, has shown that the population of this species in Estonia was over 22,500 individuals (estimated by the end of winter 2012). The ICUN classifies this species as "Least Concern".
Wild boars are tend to affect negatively on the ecosystems. They may ruin the habitats of other animals and plants in the area. Wild boars and their young may also have influence predator populations (bobcats, coyotes, cougars), as items of prey.
Wild boars are commonly found and widespread throughout Eurasia. They are commonly farmed for consumption throughout the world. Hence, these animals could have been domesticated anywhere. But according to a zoo-archaeological evidence, namely, bones and teeth, domestication of these mammals began about 9,000 - 10,000 years ago, on the territory of modern Eastern Turkey. After several thousand years, they were independently domesticated in central China. According to a recently conducted research, which compared DNA of Wild boars and domestic pigs, domestication of these animals also took place in other regions of the Old World, including Europe.
Fun facts for kids
- Wild boars exhibit conspicuous tusks on their lower lips. Males possess noticeably longer and curved tusks as well as an additional tusk on the upper lip, with which they sharpen tusks on the lower lip.
- The snout of this mammal is elongated and elastic. Wild boar used its snout when digging out roots and bulbs.
- When fighting, these mammals typically slash at shoulders of one another, since this part of their body is covered with very thick skin and hair.
- In the past, hairs from this animal's neck served as a material for toothbrush production, later being altered with synthetic materials.
- Despite having poorly-developed eyesight, these mammals perceive their environment through excellent senses of smell and hearing.
- Because their short legs, these animals move through snow with great difficulty. This could be the historical reason why Wild boars didn't spread further north than the northern edge of their current range.