Wild Boar
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Scientific classification
Species:S. scrofa
Binomial name
Sus scrofa
Linnaeus, 1758

The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the wild ancestor of the domesticated pig. It lives in woodlands in central Europe, the Mediterranean regions, across southern Asia and as far as Indonesia. Animals similar to the wild boar include the warthog of Africa and the peccary or javelina of the American Southwest; but these animals do not share the pig's taxonomic genus.

The wild boar for a long time was extinct in Great Britain, although some are farmed for their meat. In recent decades escaped wild boars have bred into a new wild population in some areas, particularly the Weald. They are capable of causing serious injury and are best avoided.


Wild or feral

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Wild pigs introduced into Florida.

The term boar can refer to an adult male domestic pig. The difference between the wild and domestic animals is largely a matter of perception; both are usually described as Sus scrofa, and domestic pigs quite readily become feral. The characterisation of populations as wild, feral or domestic and pig or boar is usually decided by where the animals are encountered and what is known of their history.

One characteristic by which domestic breed and wild animals are differentiated is coats. Wild animals almost always have thick, short bristly coats ranging in colour from brown through grey to black. A prominent ridge of hair matching the spine is also common, giving rise to the name razorback in the southern United States. The tail is usually short and straight. Wild animals tend also to have longer legs than domestic breeds and a longer and narrower head and snout. European adult males can be up to 200kg and have both upper and lower tusks; females do not have tusks and are around a third smaller on average. (Compare "Hogzilla", a very large boar shot in Georgia, USA in 2004.)


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Roman relief, c. 3rd century of hunting wild boar.

Wild boars live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically contain around twenty animals, but groups of over fifty have been seen. In a typical sounder there are two or three sows and their offspring; adult males are not part of the sounder outside of the autumnal breeding season and are usually found alone. Birth, called farrowing, usually occurs in the spring; a litter will typically contain five piglets, but up to thirteen has been known.

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Sport with Dogs.–"How the Wild Boar is hunted by means of Dogs." Facsimile of a miniature in the manuscript of the Livre du Roy Modus (14th century).

The animals are usually nocturnal, foraging from dusk until dawn but with resting periods during both night and day. This is because hunters are most active during the day.


Wild boars are hunted rather because they are damaging crops and forests than for food. Such hunting was traditionally done by groups of spearmen using a specialised boar spear. The boar spear is fitted with a cross guard to stop the enraged animal driving its pierced body further down the shaft in order to attack its killer before dying. Specialised boar swords were also used in boar hunting, and also large hunting dogs, which would usually be equipped with heavy leather armour. See also mediaeval hunting. Such dog armour is also used by modern boar hunters, who however are usually armed with rifles or powerful compound bows.

Mythology and symbolism

One of the Twelve Labours of Hercules was hunting a wild boar, the "Erymanthian Boar". Boar hunting figures in several stories of Celtic and Irish mythology. The wild boar was a symbol of Richard III of England. The boar and boar's head are common charges in heraldry. A complete beast may represent what are seen as the positive qualities of the boar, namely courage and fierceness in battle; a boar's head may represent hospitality (from the common provision of roast boar at banquets), or it may symbolise that the bearer of the arms is a noted hunter. However boar charges also lend themselves very well to canting (heraldic punning).de:Wildschwein fr:Sanglier he:חזיר בר lt:Šernas nl:Wild zwijn pl:Dzik europejski sl:Divja svinja sv:Vildsvin


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