Frequently Asked Questions-Wild Pigs
1. How many they average per litter and how often they can breed in a year?
The wild pig is the most prolific large mammal on the face of the Earth—but they are not “born pregnant”! The average is between 5 and 6 pigs per litter. Sows have approximately 1.5 litters per year. Are more litters per year and larger litter sizes possible? Absolutely yes! However, I am using long-term averages, not what can occur under ideal conditions –which usually unsustainable over the long haul. Young females do not typically have their first litter until they are 13+ months of age, even though they can be sexually mature at 6 to 8 months of age or even earlier in some cases.
2. What is the average lifespan of a wild pig?
Mortality rates vary greatly-impacting the very young and the very old primarily. Predation is not a big issue once they reach about 10 to 15 pounds. Hunting can be a significant mortality factor in some regions but generally is not enough to offset population growth. Depending on a variety of these factors, plus disease, vehicle collisions etc., average lifespan is probably between 4 and 8 years of age. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service surveyed landowners in 2011 to determine an estimate of how many wild pigs are removed from the Texas landscape each year. We estimated 753,646 wild pigs were removed by landowner-initiated efforts in 2010. This will help refine rate of population growth and population estimate models even more.
3. How heavy can they grow to?
Weights depend on genetic background and food availability. Generally, males can reach larger weights than females but this is not a hard and fast rule. Average weights vary but run 200 pounds for adult males and 175 pounds for adult females. A 300 pound feral hog is a large pig. The unusually large weights of 500 pounds + occasionally reported in the media are very rare.
4. What is the power of their bite? What other animal can it be likened to in that regard?
They have extremely strong jaws to crack open hard-shelled nuts such as hickory nuts and pecans. As they predate upon or scavenge animal carcasses, they can easily break bones and often consume the entire carcass, often leaving little if any sign behind.
5. How strong is their sense of smell?
The wild pig’s sense of smell is well developed (much better than both their eyesight and hearing) and they rely strongly on it to detect danger and search out food. They are capable of sensing some odors 5-7 miles away and may be able to detect odors as much as 25 feet underground! Appealing to this tremendous sense of smell is often essentially as fermented or scented baits can provide additional attraction to make them more vulnerable to trapping.
6. What are their eating habits, and how much they eat in a day?
Wild pigs are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they feed on plant and animal matter in addition to being able to play the role of a scavenger. They are largely indiscriminant in their feeding habits and eat both vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Approximately 85% to 90% of their diet is believed to be composed of vegetation (including crops where available) and 10% animal matter. Small pigs may eat approximately 5% of their body weight daily; larger pigs an estimated 3 % of body weight.
7. Do you have any documented proof of their violent nature? (Newspaper clippings)
Ample documentation exists of wild pig-human encounters. However, the likelihood of a human being impacted by a hog/vehicle collision or disease risk—while still low is greater than an actual physical attack by a wild pig. Where the rare wild pig attack occurs, it is usually during a hunting scenario where dogs are used to bay or corner a pig in a spot and the pig “runs through” the associated hunters standing nearby. Occasionally, humans inadvertently walk between a sow and her litter and the sow reacts to protect her young. Totally unprovoked attacks outside of these two scenarios are rare. Given a choice, wild pigs usually flee rather than fight. However, U.S. newspapers report from 5 to 7 human fatalities each year.
10. If impaled by a wild pig’s tusk, what disease could you get from one?
Most likely, a human would be subject to an infection just as you would from suffering any deep cut or abrasion from any unclean surface.
11. How fast can they run and high can they jump?
Wild pigs can run up to 30 mph. They can jump over fences less than 3 feet high and have “climbed” out of pig traps with walls 5 to 6 feet high. Therefore, traps with 90 degree corners must be covered on top because the pigs tend to pile up in that corner and literally climb over each other– and the corner gives enough leverage for them to go over the top. Either use a 5 foot high trap with no corners (circular or tear-drop shaped) or cover the corners/top of the trap.
12. How do they sleep? (habits…i.e. burrow a den? Standing up?)
Wild pig can simply lie down and sleep, usually on their sides. They will actually construct “nests” that they use for sleeping as well as farrowing. Some are very simple depressions and others can be quite elaborate. Oftentimes, they simply seek out thick underbrush for security or root into a brush pile or downed tree top for security. In the hot months, they will often lie in mud and/or seek deep shade.
13. How hard they are to kill?
How hard are they to kill with what? Very hard with a sling shoot or BB gun! Seriously, most archers shoot wild pigs in the heart /lung region immediately behind the shoulder from broadside or at a slightly quartering away angle. Hunters using firearms are advised to shoot the pigs in the neck or in the vitals (heart/lung region). Preferred rifles for pigs are 25 to 30 caliber. Regardless of the caliber/weapon, shot placement is essential for a clean and ethical kill. Archers typically limit their shots to 25-30 yards to help ensure a clean kill.
14. What other animal would you liken their intelligence level to, and ability to learn to avoid traps?