Wild Hogs

[Tweet “Found all over FL, these opportunistic eaters cause problems for livestock production and ecological conservation. http://bit.ly/23plWb8”]You may have seen a pig on a farm or at a county fair before, but do you know the difference between these pigs and what are known as wild hogs (sometimes also called wild or feral swine)?

History

To answer that question, we have to go back to the 1500s. At this time, Spanish explorers introduced swine to Florida (swine are actually not native to North America). Some of these animals escaped, creating feral populations.1

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Eurasian wild boar were introduced in the United States for game hunting purposes. The Eurasian wild board hybridized with feral hogs. Today, there are no true Eurasian wild boar in the United States, only hybrids or non-hybridized feral hogs.1

Identification

Wild hogs look like pigs you might find on a farm, but they usually have less body fat and behave like wild, not domesticated, animals.

  • Wild hogs come in black, white, or reddish-brown and may be one color or piebald.

    Wild hog with tusks

    Wild hog with multiple colors and tusks. UF/IFAS photo.

  • Adult males can weigh more than 200 pounds, while females are smaller.
  • Hogs have two sets of tusks, and males have larger tusks than females.
  • Hogs are great at smelling and hearing, but they can’t see very well.1

Distribution

Wild hogs can be found all over Florida and can adapt to many different environments. They prefer areas with lots of tree-cover and lots of food, especially acorns. Hogs also need areas with mud or water where they can cool off during warm weather.¹

Hog-Human Conflicts

Wild hogs’ opportunistic eating habits can create issues for agriculture, livestock production, and ecological conservation. These hogs can also carry parasites and diseases such as pseudorabies that may harm wildlife or livestock.4 Humans can catch brucellosis from handling meat from wild hogs.In certain conditions, hogs may also become aggressive toward humans.1

  • Wild hogs have been known to eat grains, legumes, vegetables, and even tree seedlings.1
  • Hogs will search for food by “rooting” around in the soil with their snouts. A recent UF/IFAS study found that loss of forage grasses due to rooting costs the cattle production industry $2 million dollars each year, possibly more.2
  • Hogs can harm conservation areas such as the Savannas Preserve State Park in St. Lucie County, Florida.3

These problems have fueled efforts to manage wild hog populations in Florida. Management includes hunting, trapping, shooting, and fencing-out these animals.1


  1. William M. Giuliano, Wild Hogs in Florida: Ecology and Management, WEC277, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw322
  2. Brad Buck, “UF/IFAS study: Feral swine cost at least $2 million annual in cattle production,” UF/IFAS News, 2016, https://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/01/ufifas-study-feral-swine-can-cost-at-least-2-million-annually-in-cattle-production/
  3. Elizabeth F. Pienaar, The Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis in Environmental Policy, WEC338, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw383
  4. Samantha Wisely, Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Pseudorabies, WEC343, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw388
  5. Don Forrester and Joe Schaefer, Infectious Diseases of Florida’s Wildlife, WEC113, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw099

Photo by Snidow/iStock