An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Suidae
          Subfamily: Suinae
            Genus: Sus

Sus scrofa

      Eurasian wild pig


Sus scrofa [Linnaeus, 1758].  
Citation: Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1:49.
Type locality: Germany.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 90-200 cm / 3-6.6 ft.
Shoulder Height: 55-110 cm / 1.8-3.6 ft.
Tail Length: 15-40 cm / 6-16 in.
Weight: 44-320 kg / 91-711 lb.

The brownish coat is coarse and bristly, usually turning grayish with age.  The face, cheeks, and throat are slightly grizzled with whitish hairs.  The back is rounded and the legs are relatively long, especially in northern subspecies.  Young are born with a pattern of light stripes along their torso, known as livery.  These fade between the second and sixth month, reaching adult colouration at one year of age.  The wartless head is long and pointed.  The upper canines form tusks which curve out and upwards.  The lower canines are like razors, self-sharpening by rubbing against the upper canines.  The tail is long with a simple tuft.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 112-130 days
Young per Birth: 4-8, rarely up to 13..
Weaning: At 3-4 months.
Sexual Maturity: Usually at 18 months.
Life span: 21 years.

Breeding occurs year-round in the tropics, although in more temperate zone the young are born primarily in the spring.  Just prior to giving birth, the female isolates herself and builds a large nest lined with vegetation.  Within two weeks of birth, each piglet has its "own" nipple from which it drinks from exclusively.  The young become independent at 7 months of age

Ecology and Behavior

Activity is concentrated from dusk to dawn, with a primary resting period at night and a "siesta" during the early afternoon.  Wild boars rest in tight groups with bodily contact.  The resting place, used several times before being abandoned, is made of numerous troughs lined with leaves and branches.  Wild boar are excellent swimmers, and have been documented swimming between offshore islands up to 7 km / 4 miles apart.  Wallowing is a favourite activity, taking place several times during each summer afternoons in muddy waterholes.  In winter, this frequency drops to about once per week.  After wallowing, the wild boar rubs against trees and bushes, an activity that acts as a territorial marker.  Ten different vocalizations have been distinguished, and each mother can recognize her own offspring by voice.

Family group: Maternal families averaging 20, but with a maximum of 100 animals, adult males solitary.
Diet: Seeds, roots, tubers, fruit, nuts, carrion, eggs, insects.  In short - ANYTHING.
Main Predators: Humans, wolf, tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard.


Scrub, forest, and arid environments in Southern Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

Range Map (Redrawn from Oliver et al., 1993)

Conservation Status

While the Eurasian wild pig is a fairly common species, S. s. riukiuanus of Japan is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (1996).


Over 9,000 years ago (~7,000 B.C.E.), this wild hog was domesticated into what we know as the pig.  However, although the two forms are still considered one species, only the wild variant is discussed here.  Sus (Latin) a pig.  Scrofa (Latin) a breeding sow.

Literature Cited

Oliver, W. L. R.,  I. L. Brisbin, Jr., and S. Takahashi.  1993.  The Eurasian wild pig (Sus scrofa).  In Pigs, Peccaries and Hippos: Status Survey and Action Plan.  Edited by W. L. R. Oliver.   Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.  pp. 112-121.

Schmidt, C. R. 1990. Pigs. In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Edited by S. P. Parker. New York: McGraw-Hill. Volume 5, pp. 20-47.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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