|The wild boar (Sus scrofa) or wild hog, often simply referred to as a boar, is a species of a pig in the biological family Suidae and the wild ancestor of the domestic pig It is native across much of Central Europe, the Mediterranean Region (including North Africa’s Atlas Mountains) and much of Asia as far south as Indonesia, and has been introduced elsewhere.
Although common in France, the wild boar became extinct in Great Britain and Ireland by the 17th century, but wild breeding populations have recently returned in some areas, particularly the Weald, following escapes from boar farms.
The term boar is used to denote an adult male of certain speciesÂ—including, confusingly, domestic pigs. However, for wild boar, it applies to the whole species, including, for instance, “sow wild boar” or “wild boar piglet”.
The body of the wild boar is compact; the head is large, the legs relatively short. The fur consists of stiff bristles and usually finer fur. The colour usually varies from dark grey to black or brown, but there are great regional differences in colour; even whitish animals are known from central Asia. During winter the fur is much denser.
Adult boars average 120Â–180 cm in length and have a shoulder height of 90 cm. As a whole, their average weight is 50Â–90 kg kilograms (110Â–200 pounds), though boars show a great deal of weight variation within their geographical ranges. In central Italy their weight usually ranges from 80 to 100 kg; boars shot in Tuscany have been recorded to weigh 150 kg (331 lb). A French specimen shot in Negremont forest in Ardenne in 1999 weighed 227 kg (550 lb). Carpathian boars have been recorded to reach weights of 200 kg (441 lb), while Romanian and Russian boars can reach weights of 300 kg (661 lb). Generally speaking, native Eurasian boars follow the Bergmann’s rule, with smaller boars nearer the tropics and larger, smaller-eared boars in the North of their range.
The continuously growing tusks (the canine teeth) serve as weapons and tools. The lower tusks of an adult male measure about 20 cm (7.9 in) (from which seldom more than 10 cm (3.9 in) protrude out of the mouth), in exceptional cases even 30 cm (12 in). The upper tusks are bent upwards in males, and are regularly ground against the lower ones to produce sharp edges. In females they are smaller, and the upper tusks are only slightly bent upwards in older individuals.
Wild boar piglets are coloured differently from adults, being a soft[vague] brown with longitudinal darker stripes. The stripes fade by the time the piglet is about half-grown,[clarification needed] when the animal takes on the adult’s grizzled grey or brown colour.
Litter size of wild boars may vary depending on their location. A study in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in the US reported a mean litter size of 3.3. A similar study on Santa Catalina Island, California reported a mean litter size of 5. Larger litter sizes have been reported in Europe.
Wild boars live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically contain around 20 animals, but groups of over 50 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 a breeding cycle, two to three per year, and are usually found alone. Birth, called farrowing, usually occurs in a secluded area away from the sounder; a litter will typically contain 8Â–12 piglets.The animals are usually crepuscular, foraging from dusk until dawn but with resting periods during both night and day.They eat almost anything they come across, including grass, nuts, berries, carrion, roots, tubers, refuse, insects, small reptilesÂ—even young deer and lambs.
Boars are the only hoofed animals known to dig burrows.
If surprised or cornered, a boar (and particularly a sow with her piglets) can and will defend itself and its young with intense vigor. The male lowers its head, charges, and then slashes upward with his tusks. The female, whose tusks are not visible, charges with her head up, mouth wide, and bites. Such attacks are not often fatal to humans, but may result in severe trauma, dismemberment, or blood loss.
Reconstructed range of wild boar (green) and introduced populations (blue)
The wild boar was originally found in North Africa and much of Eurasia from the British Isles to Korea and the Sunda Islands. In the north it reached southern Scandinavia and southern Siberia. Within this range it was absent in extremely dry deserts and alpine zones.
A few centuries ago it was found in North Africa along the Nile valley up to Khartum and north of the Sahara. The reconstructed northern boundary of the range in Asia ran from Lake Ladoga (at 60Â°N) through the area of Novgorod and Moscow into the southern Ural, where it reached 52Â°N. From there the boundary passed Ishim and farther east the Irtysh at 56Â°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 China Sea. At Sachalin there are only fossil reports of wild boar. The southern boundaries in Europe and Asia were almost everywhere identical to the sea shores of these continents. In dry deserts and high mountain ranges, the wild boar is naturally absent. So it is absent in the dry regions of Mongolia from 44Â–46Â°N southward, in China westward of Sichuan and in India north of the Himalaya. In high altitudes of Pamir and Tien Shan they are also absent; however, at Tarim basin and on the lower slopes of the Tien Shan they do occur.
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In recent centuries, the range of wild boar changed dramatically because of hunting by humans. They probably became extinct in Great Britain in the 13th century: certainly none remained in southern England by 1610, when King James I reintroduced them to Windsor Great Park. This attempt failed due to poaching, and later attempts met the same fate. By 1700 there were no wild boar remaining in Britain.
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 extinct in wide areas in the 1930s, and the northern boundary has shifted far to the south, especially in the parts to the west of the Altai Mountains.
By contrast, a strong and growing population of boar has remained in France, where they are hunted for food and sport, especially in the rural central and southern parts of that country. The situation is the same in Spain, where sounders of wild boars are not uncommon even near the suburbs of Madrid and Lleida.
By 1950 wild boar had once again reached their original northern boundary in many parts of their Asiatic range. By 1960 they reached Saint Petersburg 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 survive in the wild. (The wild boar population in Sweden was 80,000 in 2006 but is now estimated to be more than 100,000. In 2006 25,000 wild boar were killed by hunters in Sweden.) In the 1990s they migrated into Tuscany in Italy.
Wild boars, descended from domesticated pigs, are present in significant numbers in North Eastern Australia. Considered an exotic pest, they are hunted for both sport and population control. They are aggressive and are known to be a vector for tuberculosis.