"I like Pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals."
Sir Winston Churchill
We like Pigs
We have been fortunate to get to know some of our neighbors. They are not much on conversation but they sure can be fun to watch. As far as we are concerned - wild pigs make great neighbors. However, wild pigs are considered non-native wildlife to America and their lifestyle sometimes conflicts with the lifestyles of humans. Our wild neighbors have been very non-aggressive and they are welcome on the Felids and Friends property.
We thought that you might enjoy learning more about our wild pig neighbors. By the way, there are over 3 million copies of these wonderful creatures around the United States.
Pigs arrived in the United States when they were first introduced from a ship commanded by Fernado De Soto that landed on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1539. Wild hogs were introduced into the Gulf ecosystem through intentional or accidental releases. Most wild pigs (Sus scrofa) in the Gulf states are either feral domestic hogs or hybrids of domestic hogs and wild boars. Florida's wild hogs, for example, are believed to be a mixture of Spanish wild boars, European hunting stock, Russian wild boars, and domestic hogs .
Wild hogs are the most successful exotic big game species in the United States . They have been reported as more common than deer in certain parts of Georgia. There are an estimated 500,000 wild hogs in Florida alone. Most are found in forested areas with dense under-stories. Others are found on private lands, state parks, wildlife management areas and national refuges .
In Florida, the forested areas in which wild hogs thrive, are dominated by coastal salt marsh, slash pine flat woods inter-spread with cypress swamps, hydric oak hammocks, and bayheads. Some of the highest densities of feral hogs can be found north and west of Lake Okeechobee where large forested tracts, dense vegetation, abundant water and limited public access provide an ideal environment for the pigs. Areas where population densities are the lowest are those of undisturbed but marginal habitat and those areas with intensive agriculture or urban development.
Management of this species has traditionally consisted of relocating wild hogs from areas where they are considered a nuisance to public hunting areas .
The primary source of mortality throughout the Gulf states is hunting, with as many as 50,000 individuals taken per year in Florida . However, populations remain stable in Florida and have been reported as rapidly expanding in Texas .
Males tend to be solitary, but several females
and their offspring may remain together. Breeding occurs at any time of the
year, with litters of 1-12 piglets born about 114 days later. The piglets are
weaned in a few weeks but remain with the mother for several months. Females may
have two litters per year.
The pig is an omnivore. They forage for food on the ground by rooting just beneath the surface. Acorns are their favorite food, but they will eat almost anything, including dead animals, and it seems like they're always looking for opportunities. When natural foods are scarce or inaccessible, hogs will forage on almost any agricultural crop and livestock feed. They will also feed on tree seeds and seedlings.
Wild boars are sometimes called razorbacks. This is because the hair along the backbone stands erect when the boar is agitated. Pigs will retreat when approached but they can become aggressive when cornered because they may feel that they are threatened. So, if you come upon pigs watch them from a distance. Pigs will always avoid confrontations with humans.
Natural predators include man, bears, and panthers.
Wild hogs are coming into conflict with people and wildlife. Farmers are not happy when feral hogs root up their fields, and health officials say the animals carry diseases that could affect wildlife, livestock and people. In addition, wild hogs can also host many diseases and parasites, including hog cholera, psuedorabies, brucellosis, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, anthrax, ticks, fleas, lice and various flukes and worms.
In addition to the effects of consuming, knocking down and trampling large amounts of native vegetation and crops, the rooting behavior of wild hogs causes significant damage. Rooting - digging for foods below the surface of the ground destabilizes the soil surface, uproots or weakens native vegetation, damages lawns and causes erosion. Their wallowing behavior destroys small ponds and stream banks, which may affect water quality. They also prey upon ground-nesting wildlife, including sea turtles.
Wild hogs compete for food with other game animals such as deer, turkeys and squirrels, and they may consume the nests and young of many reptiles, ground-nesting birds and mammals. With their fine sense of smell, wild hogs can find and consume young domestic livestock, including poultry, lambs and goats. Millions of dollars are spent each year to prevent damage from hogs.
Hogs are considered to be very intelligent resourceful animals. We must remember that pigs like us have a right to be here. After all, they have been here for almost five hundred years. If they are to be controlled, it is important to treat them with dignity and respect. Humans need to be more aggressive at finding more humane ways in which to control pig populations such as effective birth control methods. Humans have to show more responsibility in employing passive methods to keep these wonderful animals from inadvertently damaging crops and lawns that are only important to humans.
View pictures of hogs that are neighbors to the Felids and Friends neighborhood.