The wild boar, also known as the wild swine or Eurasian wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia,
North Africa, and the Greater Sunda Islands. Human intervention has spread its range further, making the
species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread suiform. Its wide
range, high numbers, and adaptability mean that it is classed as least concern by the IUCN. The animal
probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene, and outcompeted other suid species as it
spread throughout the Old World.
As of 1990, up to 16 subspecies are recognised, which are divided into four regional groupings based on skull
height and lacrimal bone length. The species lives in matriarchal societies consisting of interrelated
females and their young (both male and female). Fully grown males are usually solitary outside the breeding
season. The grey wolf is the wild boar's main predator throughout most of its range except in the Far East
and the Lesser Sunda Islands, where it is replaced by the tiger and Komodo dragon respectively. It has a
long history of association with humans, having been the ancestor of most domestic pig breeds and a big-game
animal for millennia.
The wild boar is a bulky, massively built suid with short and relatively thin legs. The trunk is short and
massive, while the hindquarters are comparatively underdeveloped. The region behind the shoulder blades
rises into a hump, and the neck is short and thick, to the point of being nearly immobile. The animal's head
is very large, taking up to one third of the body's entire length. The structure of the head is well suited
for digging. The head acts as a plow, while the powerful neck muscles allow the animal to upturn
considerable amounts of soil: it is capable of digging 8-10 cm (3.1-3.9 in) into frozen ground and can
upturn rocks weighing 40-50 kg (88-110 lb). The eyes are small and deep-set, and the ears long and broad.
The species has well developed canine teeth, which protrude from the mouths of adult males. The middle hooves
are larger and more elongated than the lateral ones, and are capable of quick movements. The animal can run
at a maximum speed of 40 km/h and jump at a height of 140-150 cm (55-59 in). Sexual dimorphism is very
pronounced in the species, with males being typically 5-10% larger and 20-30% heavier than females. Males
also sport a mane running down the back, which is particularly apparent during autumn and winter. The canine
teeth are also much more prominent in males, and grow throughout life. The upper canines are relatively
short and grow sideways early in life, though gradually curve upwards. The lower canines are much sharper
and longer, with the exposed parts measuring 10-12 cm (3.9-4.7 in) in length. In the breeding period, males
develop a coating of subcutaneous tissue, which may be 2-3 cm (0.79-1.18 in) thick, extending from the
shoulder blades to the rump, thus protecting vital organs during fights. Males sport a roughly egg-sized
sack near the opening of the penis, which collects urine and emits a sharp odour. The purpose of this is not
Adult size and weight is largely determined by environmental factors; boars living in arid areas with little
productivity tend to attain smaller sizes than their counterparts inhabiting areas with abundant food and
water. In most of Europe, males average 75-100 kg (165-220 lb) in weight, 75-80 cm (30-31 in) in shoulder
height and 150 cm (59 in) in body length, whereas females average 60-80 kg (130-180 lb) in weight, 70 cm
(28 in) in shoulder height and 140 cm (55 in) in body length. In Europe's Mediterranean regions, males may
reach average weights as low as 50 kg (110 lb) and females 45 kg (99 lb), with shoulder heights of 63-65 cm
(25-26 in). In the more productive areas of Eastern Europe, males average 110-130 kg (240-290 lb) in weight,
95 cm (37 in) in shoulder height and 160 cm (63 in) in body length, while females weigh 95 kg (209 lb),
reach 85-90 cm (33-35 in) in shoulder height and 145 cm (57 in) in body length. In Western and Central
Europe, the largest males weigh 200 kg (440 lb) and females 120 kg (260 lb). In Eastern Europe, large males
can reach brown bear-like sizes, weighing 270 kg (600 lb) and measuring 110-118 cm (43-46 in) in shoulder
height. Some adult males in Ussuriland and Manchuria have been recorded to weigh 300-350 kg (660-770 lb) and
measure 125 cm (49 in) in shoulder height. Adults of this size are generally immune from wolf predation.
Such giants are rare in modern times, due to past overhunting preventing animals from attaining their full
The winter coat consists of long, coarse bristles underlaid with short brown downy fur. The length of these
bristles varies along the body, with the shortest being around the face and limbs and the longest running
along the back. These back bristles form the aforementioned mane prominent in males, and stand erect when the
animal is agitated. Colour is highly variable; specimens around Lake Balkhash are very lightly coloured, and
can even be white, while some boars from Belarus and Ussuriland can be black. Some subspecies sport a light
coloured patch running backwards from the corners of the mouth. Coat colour also varies with age, with
piglets having light brown or rusty-brown fur with pale bands extending from the flanks and back.
Social behavior and life cycle
Boars are typically social animals, living in female-dominated sounders consisting of barren sows and mothers
with young led by an old matriarch. Male boars leave their sounder at the age of 8-15 months, while females
either remain with their mothers or establish new territories nearby. Subadult males may live in loosely knit
groups, while adult and elderly males tend to be solitary outside the breeding season.
The breeding period in most areas lasts from November to January, though most mating only lasts a month and
a half. Prior to mating, the males develop their subcutaneous armour, in preparation for confronting rivals.
The testicles double in size and the glands secrete a foamy yellowish liquid. Once ready to reproduce, males
travel long distances in search of a sounder of sows, eating little on the way. Once a sounder has been
located, the male drives off all young animals and persistently chases the sows. At this point, the male
fiercely fights potential rivals, A single male can mate with 5-10 sows. By the end of the rut, males are
often badly mauled and have lost 20% of their body weight, with bite-induced injuries to the penis being
common. The gestation period varies according to the age of the expecting mother. For first time breeders,
it lasts 114-130 days, while it lasts 133-140 days in older sows. Farrowing occurs between March and May,
with litter sizes depending on the age and nutrition of the mother. The average litter consists of 4-6
piglets, with the maximum being 10-12. The piglets are whelped in a nest constructed from twigs, grasses and
leaves. Should the mother die prematurely, the piglets are adopted by the other sows in the sounder.
Newborn piglets weigh around 600-1,000 grams, lacking underfur and bearing a single milk incisor and canine
on each half of the jaw. There is intense competition between the piglets over the most milk-rich nipples,
as the best fed young grow faster and have stronger constitutions. The piglets do not leave the lair for
their first week of life. Should the mother be absent, the piglets lie closely pressed to each other. By two
weeks of age, the piglets begin accompanying their mother on her journeys. Should danger be detected, the
piglets take cover or stand immobile, relying on their camouflage to keep them hidden. The neonatal coat
fades after three months, with adult colouration being attained at eight months. Although the lactation
period lasts 2.5-3.5 months, the piglets begin displaying adult feeding behaviours at the age of 2-3 weeks.
The permanent dentition is fully formed by 1-2 years. With the exception of the canines in males, the teeth
stop growing during the middle of the fourth year. The canines in old males continue to grow throughout
their lives, curving strongly as they age. Sows attain sexual maturity at the age of one year, with males
attaining it a year later. However, estrus usually first occurs after two years in sows, while males begin
participating in the rut after 4-5 years, as they are not permitted to mate by the older males. The maximum
lifespan in the wild is 10-14 years, though few specimens survive past 4-5 years. Boars in captivity have
lived for 20 years.
The wild boar inhabits a diverse array of habitats from boreal taigas to deserts. In mountainous regions, it
can even occupy alpine zones, occurring up to 1,900 metres in the Carpathians, 2,600 metres in the Caucasus
and up to 3,600-4,000 metres in the mountains in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. In order to survive in a given
area, wild boars require a habitat fulfilling three conditions: heavily brushed areas providing shelter from
predators, water for drinking and bathing purposes and an absence of regular snowfall. The main habitats
favoured by boars in Europe are deciduous and mixed forests, with the most favourable areas consisting of
forest composed of oak and beech enclosing marshes and meadows. In the Biaowiea Forest, the animal's primary
habitat consists of well developed, broad-leaved and mixed forests, along with marshy mixed forests, with
coniferous forests and undergrowths being of secondary importance. Forests made up entirely of oak groves and
beech are used only during the fruit-bearing season. This is in contrast to the Caucasian and Transcaucasian
mountain areas, where boars will occupy such fruit-bearing forests year-round. In the mountainous areas of
the Russian Far East, the species inhabits nutpine groves, hilly mixed forests where Mongolian oak and
Korean pine are present, swampy mixed taiga and coastal oak forests. In Transbaikalia, boars are restricted
to river valleys with nutpine and shrubs. Boars are regularly encountered in pistachio groves in winter in
some areas of Tajikistan and Turkmenia, while in spring they migrate to open deserts; boar have also
colonised deserts in several areas they have been introduced to. On the islands of Komodo and Rinca, the
boar mostly inhabits savanna or open monsoon forests, avoiding heavily forested areas unless pursued by
humans. Wild boar are known to be competent swimmers, capable of covering long distances. In 2013, one boar
was reported to have completed the seven mile swim from France to Alderney in the Channel Islands. Due to
concerns about disease it was shot and incinerated.
Wild boar rest in shelters, which contain insulating material like spruce branches and dry hay. These resting
places are occupied by whole families (though males lie separately), and are often located in the vicinity
of streams, in swamp forests, in tall grass or shrub thickets. Boars never defecate in their shelters, and
will cover themselves with soil and pine needles when irritated by insects.
The wild boar is a highly versatile omnivore, whose diversity in choice of food rivals that of humans.
A 50 kg (110 lb) boar needs around 4,000-4,500 calories of food per day, though this required amount
increases during winter and pregnancy, with the majority of its diet consisting of food items dug from the
ground like underground plant material and burrowing animals. Acorns and beechnuts are invariably its most
important food items in temperate zones, as they are rich in the carbohydrates necessary for the buildup of
fat reserves needed to survive lean periods. In Western Europe, underground plant material favoured by boars
includes bracken, willow herb, bulbs, meadow herb roots and bulbs, and the bulbs of cultivated crops. Such
food is favoured in early spring and summer, but may also be eaten in autumn and winter during beechnut and
acorn crop failures. Should regular wild foods become scarce, boars will eat tree bark and fungi, as well as
visit cultivated potato and artichoke fields. Boar soil disturbance and foraging have been shown to
facilitate invasive plants. Boars of the vittatus subspecies in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java differ from
most other populations by their primarily frugivorous diet, which consists of 50 different fruit species,
especially figs, thus making them important seed dispersers. The wild boar can consume numerous genera of
poisonous plants without ill effect, including Aconitum, Anemone, Calla, Caltha, Ferula, and Pteridium.
Boars may occasionally prey on small vertebrates like newborn deer fawns, leporids and galliform chicks.
Boars inhabiting the Volga Delta and near some lakes and rivers of Kazakhstan have been recorded to feed
extensively on fish like carp and Caspian roach. Boars in the former area will also feed on cormorant and
heron chicks, bivalved molluscs, trapped muskrats and mice. There is at least one record of a boar killing
and eating a bonnet macaque in southern India's Bandipur National Park, though this may have been a case of
intraguild predation, brought on by interspecific competition for human handouts.
The species originally occurred in North Africa and much of Eurasia; from the British Isles to Korea and the
Sunda Islands. The northern limit of its range extended from southern Scandinavia to southern Siberia and
Japan. Within this range, it was only absent in extremely dry deserts and alpine zones. It was once found in
North Africa along the Nile valley up to Khartum and north of the Sahara. The species occurs on a few Ionian
and Aegean Islands, sometimes swimming between islands. The reconstructed northern boundary of the animal's
Asian range ran from Lake Ladoga (at 60°N) through the area of Novgorod and Moscow into the southern Urals,
where it reached 52°N. From there, the boundary passed Ishim and farther east the Irtysh at 56°N. In the
eastern Baraba steppe (near Novosibirsk) the boundary turned steep south, encircled the Altai Mountains, and
went again eastward including the Tannu-Ola Mountains and Lake Baikal. From here the boundary went slightly
north of the Amur River eastward to its lower reaches at the Sea of Okhotsk. On Sakhalin, there are only
fossil reports of wild boar. The southern boundaries in Europe and Asia were almost invariably identical to
the sea shores of these continents. It is absent in the dry regions of Mongolia from 44-46°N southward, in
China westward of Sichuan and in India north of the Himalayas. It is absent in the higher elevations of
Pamir and Tien Shan, though they do occur in the Tarim basin and on the lower slopes of the Tien Shan.
In recent centuries, the range of wild boar has changed dramatically, largely due to hunting by humans and
more recently because of captive wild boar escaping into the wild. Prior to the 20th century, boar
populations had declined in numerous areas, with British populations probably becoming extinct during the
13th century. In Denmark, the last boar was shot at the beginning of the 19th century, and in 1900 they were
absent in Tunisia and Sudan and large areas of Germany, Austria, and Italy. In Russia they were extirpated in
wide areas in the 1930s. The last boar in Egypt reportedly died on 20 December 1912 in the Giza Zoo, with
wild populations having disappeared around 1894-1902. Prince Kamal el Dine Hussein attempted to repopulate
Wadi El Natrun with boars of Hungarian stock, but they were quickly exterminated by poachers.
A revival of boar populations began in the middle of the 20th century. By 1950 wild boar had once again
reached their original northern boundary in many parts of their Asiatic range. By 1960, they reached
Leningrad and Moscow, and by 1975 they were to be found in Archangelsk and Astrakhan. In the 1970s they
again occurred in Denmark and Sweden, where captive animals escaped and now survive in the wild. In England,
wild boar populations re-established themselves in the 1990s, after escaping from specialist farms that had
imported European stock.
Zoológico de Vallarta A. C.
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