Feral hogs are domestic hogs that either escaped or were released for hunting purposes. With each generation, the hog’s domestic characteristics diminish and they develop the traits needed for survival in the wild.
A mature feral hog may reach a height of 36 inches and weigh from 100 to over 400 pounds.
Feral hogs can begin breeding at six months of age but eight to ten months is normal. Gestation is around 115 days with an average litter size of four to six, but under good conditions may have ten to twelve young.
Under good conditions, feral hogs can live up to an average of four to five years, however, they may live up to eight years.
Feral hogs eat both plant and animal matter. Much of their diet is based on seasonal availability Foods include grasses, forbs, roots, forage, mast (acorns), fruits, bulbs and mushrooms. Feral hogs are especially fond of acorns and domestic agricultural crops such as corn, milo, rice, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, watermelons and cantaloupe. Animal matter includes insects, snails, earthworms, reptiles, amphibians, carrion (dead animals), live mammals and birds. They primarily feed at night and during twilight hours. They will also feed during daylight in cold or wet weather.
Feral hogs travel and live in areas where there is a good amount of cover and food, especially where there are nut producing trees or agricultural crops. Their home range is usually less than 5,000 acres, but can range up to 70,000 acres. They prefer rivers, creeks, and drainage areas. They can also be found in drought prone environments. During hot weather, feral hogs enjoy wallowing in wet, muddy areas.
Feral hogs can harm livestock or wildlife indirectly by destroying their habitat and agriculture commodities. By rooting and trampling for food, feral hogs can cause damage to agricultural crops, fields, and livestock feeding and watering facilities. They can also destabilize wetland areas, springs, creeks and tanks by excessive rooting and wallowing. Feral hogs can destroy forestry plantings and damage trees.
In general, diseases from wild hogs do not pose a significant threat to humans; however, some diseases can be transmitted to livestock and wildlife. It is important to keep all livestock vaccinated, especially where large feral hog populations are concentrated. Various diseases of feral hogs include: pseudorabies swine brucellosis tuberculosis bubonic plague tularemia hog cholera foot and mouth disease anthrax Internal parasites include: kidney worms stomach worms round worms whipworms liver flukes trichinosis External parasites include: dog ticks fleas hog lice
Pseudorabies (a.k.a., “mad itch”) is a swine herpes virus that may affect the respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems. Despite its name, it is not a rabies type disease but derives its name from the symptoms similar to a rabid animal It is transmitted primarily through breeding but may also to be transmitted through respiratory secretions of the infected animal. Infected adult swine typically develop flu-like symptoms whereas young pigs can have severe respiratory and digestive symptoms and ultimately die. Pseudorabies poses no threat to humans but may be fatal to domestic livestock and pets. Swine Brucellosis (a.k.a., undulant fever) is an infectious, bacterial, reproductive disease that can cause abortion, low conception rates and other problems. It is transmittable to humans and causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches and pains. It is treatable with specific antibiotics.
There may be feral hog presence if you see the following signs: wallowing, rooting, rubs, crossings, trails and scat (droppings). Wallows are found in muddy areas. The hogs root and roll in the mud to cool off and the mud protects their skin from the sun and insects. Rubs are made when hogs scratch or rub themselves on tree trunks, telephone poles, fence posts, and rocks. They leave a noticeable sign with mud and hair often left clinging. The height of the rub often indicates the size of the hog. Rooting is easily recognized because it looks as if the soil has been plowed. Most often rooting takes place over a large area. Some rooting holes can be as much as three feet deep, which possibly could cause vehicle damage. A hog track is similar to a deer track except the toes are more rounded and wider in comparison to length. Hog hair is easily distinguished from other mammals and may be found at fence crossings and rubs. Scat appears very much like that of a small calf, being dropped in several small piles, which is very distinct from deer pellets or predator cord-like droppings.
All wild animals have the potential of being dangerous, especially when wounded or cornered. When they are not wounded or cornered, feral hogs will prefer to run and escape danger, and are not considered dangerous. Extreme caution should be maintained when tracking wounded animals, trapping animals or encountering females with young. Their razor sharp tusks combined with their lightning speed can cause serious injury.