Physical Characteristics of Feral Hogs


Figure 1. Appearance of a typical adult male feral hog (i.e., a wild hog from a population that is solely of domestic ancestry).

The introduced feral hogs (also called wild hogs; Sus scrofa) in the United States exhibit a broad range of physical characteristics.  To a large part, this variability stems from the widely diversified ancestral origins of these animals. In general, both free-ranging domestic swine (i.e., feral hogs; Fig. 1) and introduced Eurasian swine bloodline comprised the initial …

Feral Hog Reproductive Biology

Feral hogs (also called wild hogs; Sus scrofa) are characterized by high reproductive potential, with a young age at puberty, large litters, and frequent breeding.  The recent expanding range of this non-native species provides evidence of its high reproductive capacity.  In general, the various aspects of the reproductive biology of feral hogs in the United States are intermediate between that of domestic swine and the Eurasian wild boar.  However, these various reproductive parameters can vary widely between populations of …

Quick Facts on Feral Hogs

Feral hog numbers are on the rise in the United States.  Likewise the problems they cause are also growing.  With attention on this invasive species, many myths are circulating about feral hog history, distribution, biology, and damage.  The following bullets will help get the facts straight.

History and Distribution

  • Swine were domesticated thousands of years ago from wild stock in Europe and Asia.
  • Swine were first introduced to North America by Spanish explorers. 
  • Confined and/or free-ranging domestic swine escaped from

Protecting Yourself from Feral Hog Diseases


Figure 1. Hunter wearing gloves while processing a feral hog.  Photo courtesy Dr. Jim Cathey, Texas AgriLife Extension

Potential diseases carried by feral hogs and their health risks are popular concerns among hunters .  As a first line of defense, hunters should assess the body condition of each feral hog harvested.  A feral hog that looks to be in poor condition or skinny should be discarded as this could be a sign of disease. These feral hogs should not be …

Does Predation by Feral Hogs Cause Rattelsnakes to Stop Rattling

An internet story regarding the influence of feral hog predation on rattlesnakes has been widely distributed.  Essentially, the internet fervor relates back to fear of rattlesnakes.  As the stories go, rattlesnakes refrain from rattling because the noise attracts the attention of feral hogs, who then kill and consume the snake.  Not rattling is assumed to be a trait quickly evolved to avoid predation by feral hogs.  Non-rattling rattlesnakes are seen as a larger threat to the unknowing human that treads …

History of Feral Hogs in the United States

Feral hogs (also called wild hogs), belonging to the species Sus scrofa, are not native to the United States.  The presence of these animals in this country is solely attributable to man-made introductions, some of which were intentional while others were accidental.  Basically, two types of Sus scrofa, Eurasian wild boar and domestic swine, were introduced into the United States.  Because these two types are conspecifics, wherever both of them were found together in the wild, interbreeding …

Impact of Feral Hogs on Quail and Wild Turkey Populations


Figure 1. Feral hog consuming wild turkey eggs (photo by Dr. Brett Collier).

Feral hogs are often thought of as competitors with native wildlife.  Sometimes they cross over from competitor to predator.  Feral hogs are opportunistic omnivores, which means that they will consume whatever food source is available, including meat and eggs.  The eggs of ground-nesting birds, such as Northern bobwhite and wild turkey are particularly easy for them to consume, given their proximity to the ground (Fig. 1).…

Feral Hog Population Biology

The population biology of feral hogs (also called wild hogs; Sus scrofa) is unique among most large mammals, in that these animals have a high reproductive potential combined with a high mortality rate.  Populations of these animals have been reported to fluctuate in response to a combination of several factors (for example, density, food availability, severe weather conditions, disease outbreaks, and hunting).  Such external influences can result in high levels of mortality occurring within these populations.  However, because of …

Natural Predators of Feral Hogs

Feral hogs (also called wild hog; Sus scrofa) are preyed on by several natural (that is, nonhuman) species of carnivores and omnivores in the United States.  However, man is still unquestionably the primary and most significant predator of non-native feral hogs.  For the most part, predation by natural species is thought to represent only a minor role in the mortality of feral hogs throughout their range.  Further, most of this predation is directed toward the younger age classes within …

Feral Hog Attacks on Humans

Feral hog (also called wild hogs and wild pigs; Sus scrofa) attacks on people are rare and uncommon.  In the United States, four people have died from feral hog attacks since the late 1800s—three victims were attacked by a wounded boar while hunting.

Given the opportunity, most feral hogs would flee rather than confront a nearby human. The majority of non-fatal attacks to people happen when hogs are cornered, threatened, or wounded in non-hunting circumstances.  Most human victims are …