In this blog article, we’re headed down south to explore the forests, farm fields, and river bottom swamps in search of one of the most intelligent, yet dirtiest and sometimes dangerous animals in the land – that’s right, I’m talking about the filthy, foul, feral hog!
Over the last decade or so, the wild pig population has exploded, especially in southern states such as Texas. Feral swine have become a source of massive ecological destruction…much like the invasive Asian carp that have taken over the river systems throughout America and are causing environmental chaos– which is also the topic of many of my past videos, as well as one of my books.
Enter the Hog
The wild pigs which are roaming North America these days come from one of three primary sources: some of them are descendants from the original strain of hogs brought here from Europe in the 1500s or from other countries in more recent times; others are feral hogs, that is domestic pigs that have escaped from captivity and gone wild again; or, they can be a combination of the two.
Pigs, wild or domestic, are not the clumsy, dumb oafs that they may appear to be. On the contrary, they are one of the most nimble and intelligent animals around – and when living in the wild, they develop and rely on that intelligence all the more.
Male pigs are known as boars, and the females are referred to as sows and both of them have similar characteristics and behaviors. Both male and female wild hogs can grow tusks…sometimes very long and sharp tusks. Due to constantly gnashing their upper and lower tusks together while they eat or root around, those tusks remain sharp and dangerous year-round.
Wild boars and sows can run as fast as lightning…or, well, at least as fast as a deer, and they’re also great swimmers. One of the main reasons that pigs, both wild and domestic, get so dirty and stinking, is that they don’t have sweat glands. So much for “sweating like a pig,” as the old saying goes! So to stay cool, hogs roll around in mud and slop, which often contains their own waste, thus giving them their malodorous reputation.
Wild pigs have an incredible sense of smell, just like that of the ever-wary whitetail deer. And although their eyesight is believed to be not all that great, they can keenly detect movement and thereby elude the few threats they face in the wild. Feral hogs also have an acute sense of hearing; and while the domestic pig’s ears lazily flop over, the wild hogs are almost always straight up, on full alert. To top it all off, wild pigs have what’s called a “shield,” which is a thick layer of hardened fat that develops around their neck and shoulders that functions like armor plating. The bigger and older a wild boar gets, and the more fighting it does, the thicker and tougher the plate gets, making it all the more challenging for a rival to be victorious in battle.
Add all that up, and you’ve got a big, tough, fast, smart animal that is built to survive. And if anything gets in the way of that survival, it had better run! While usually rather reclusive, skittish, and secretive, the wild pigs are also well known for having a very aggressive, bloodthirsty temperament. Feral hogs will attack and fight amongst themselves, with other animals and pets, or with humans.
Eating Like a Pig
Wild pigs, much like any other wild animal, like to live in areas where there are abundant food and water and they like to eat all kinds of things. They have the appetite of, well, a fat greedy pig! Just like humans, hogs are omnivores, so they have a diet that can consist of a great variety of food. They’ll eat acorns and other nuts, fruit, roots, grass, insects, birds, other animals (live or dead), mushrooms, eggs, and other such edible delights.
Dirty Pig Destruction
Because they’re not originally native, wild swine that move into an area, or domestic hogs that become feral, will ravage the land as they tear up roots and kill native plants. Some of them also carry all kinds of awful diseases. They cause erosion of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers by their constant wallowing around, which also can decimate native fish populations. Feral hogs can wipe out populations of smaller animals, including a variety of endangered species such as rare, ground-dwelling birds and reptiles. They’re known for wreaking havoc on crops and gardens, not to mention the fact that they eat up much of the food that deer, turkey, and other native animals depend upon.
Few inhabitants in the woods are likely to take on and kill a tank-like wild boar, which, by the way, can grow to well over 600 pounds, with some reports of monster hogs over a thousand pounds! Thus, they’re trapped, hunted and aggressively eradicated to stop their massive ecological destruction. But it’s not just for damage control or “sport” that wild pigs are sought. They’re also very tasty and lean…having a much lower fat content than domestic pigs.
So that’s an overview of the dirty, filthy, destructive, yet delicious wild pig! To watch the video version of this blog article, click here.