Species – Wild boar (Sus scrofa)
Habitat: Wild boar like both broadleaf woodlands and coniferous woodlands. Often found near farmland which can cause human- wildlife conflict.
Description: Large head, long narrow stout and small ears. Coarse coat, with a mane of bristles, from the neck to the middle of the back. Males larger than females, and males grow tusks when they turn 2. Piglets have longitudinal brown and cream stripes across their body.
Size: >200cm in length; tail length 15-40cm
Origin and distribution: Between 17th century and 1980 there were few individuals in the zoos or wildlife collections within the UK. In 1980s wild boar farming began, and by early 1990s individuals had escaped from captivity and started to breed. They are now found in a few distinct areas across the UK.
General ecology: Root behaviour common, to locate worm and bug prey.
Diet: Largely herbivores, that eat herbage, roots, seeds and fruits. Can also eat young mammals, eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds. In the summer variety of broad leave grasses is favoured. In areas of agriculture sugar beet, potatoes and maize is popular. Overwintering survival is dependant upon the masting of both the beech and oaks trees.
Conservation Status: As wild boars act as ecosystem engineers, and this can cause intense conflict with humans. This has lead to increased culling, which appears to have slowed the range expansion and population of the species in certain habitats.
Large muscular body, heavy-set at shoulders; large head with tusks in both mature males and females (male tusks are proportionally larger). Mature males have Mohican hair ‘ridge’ down centre line from head to mid-back. They have relatively short legs. Colour can vary greatly; dark grey, brown, sandy brown and black (never a mixture of colours). Young are striped ‘humbugs’, losing stripes at 4-5 months; young can be observed throughout the year. Adult boar can measure >200cm in length; tail length 15-40cm and is straight in wild boar, if curly indicates more interbreeding with domestic or feral pigs.
Download a printable field sign guide here!
Footprints: Wild boar tracks are distinctive looking as they are hoofed, and only deer species have similar shaped footprints. Up to 7cm in width, can vary in size. There can be some confusion between wild boar prints and sheep and goat, particularly in farmland habitats. Unlike the tracks of other even toed ungulates it is the dew claws, which in soft ground are impressed even when walking slowly, that serve to identify wild boar tracks.
Uprooting turf: A distinctive field sign left by wild boar is shown in the photograph. Wild boar like to uproot grass verges in search of worms and bugs to forage upon.