Creature Feature – Wild Boar

For August I decided on wild boar for my species of the month. Seems fitting with the Family Farm Festival coming up next weekend. Wild boar are what domesticated pigs originated from, after all.

Sus scrofa

Wild boars are among the most widely distributed mammal on earth. They are found around the world from Britain and across Europe, through the Middle East and India, across Asia to Japan, and most of North Africa. They live in a variety of habitats, most often in forests and woods.

The wild boar have coarse, bristly hair, ranging in color from brown, to dark gray, to black. Both genders have tusks, although they are smaller in females. The upper canines form the tusks, which curve out and upwards. The lower canines are like razors, which are self-sharpened by rubbing against the upper canines. The tusks grow continually and would reach great lengths if not worn down. Wild boars have a very wide range in size: 90 to 700 pounds and 3 to 6.5 feet long. In Russia they tend to be big, mainly due to the availability of pine nuts.

They usually forage from dawn to dusk, but with small periods of rest both day and night. They will eat almost anything they can find, including nuts, berries, roots, carrion, insects, small reptiles and other animals, and trash. In the southern forests of eastern Russia they find large and nutritious pine nuts, also called the “bread of the forest.”

Interesting Facts

  • Wild boars are ancestors of every domestic pig. It was believed to have been domesticated about 9,000 years ago.
  • The earliest representation of a pig is a leaping boar on the wall of a cave in Spain, estimated to be about 40,000 years old. Humans have long regarded the wild boar as a symbol of boldness and ferocity.
  • A wild boar population can double every four months if adequate food is available.
  • The hair from the neck area of the boar was commonly used to make toothbrushes until the invention of synthetic materials in the 1930’s.
  • Boars are the only hoofed animal known to dig burrows.

Meet The Zoo’s Boars

A pair of wild boars called “Boris and “Natasha”, along with their eight offspring, are on exhibit at Russia’s Grizzly Coast. Many animals called “wild boar” in North America, including farms in Wisconsin, have interbred with domestic pigs and are not quite the same as the true sus scrofa. The animals at the Minnesota Zoo are known to have descended directly from stock in Russia and are therefore true examples of wild boars.

Information courtesy of

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