Feral Hog

Sus scrofa

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Image of a feral hog
MDC Staff
Invasive
Family

Suidae (pigs) in the order Artiodactyla

Description

The majority of feral hogs in Missouri are mutts with genetic combinations that include Russian or Eurasian wild boar (razorbacks), an assortment of domestic varieties such as Yorkshire, Hampshire, or Duroc, and even pot-bellied pigs. The resulting offspring exhibit a variety of shapes and colors including gray, red, black, blond, spotted, and belted.

All have small eyes, large triangular ears, and a long snout ending in a large, round nose. They have a thick coat of coarse, bristly hair, which they can erect along their spine, lending them the common name “razorback.” Most feral hogs have longer bristles than their domestic ancestors, but shorter hair than those of purebred Russian boars.

Boars (males) develop a thick, tough layer of cartilage (sometimes called a “shield”) over the shoulders, and they have four sharp tusks that grow continuously, often reaching 5 inches before they break or become worn from use. The bottom tusks are formidable weapons used for defense and to establish dominance during breeding.

Size

Height: to 3 feet at the shoulder; length: to 5 feet; weight: to 400 pounds, but most sows average 110 pounds and boars 130 pounds.

Feral hogs in Southern MO

Feral hogs in Southern MO
Feral hogs in Southern MO
Feral hogs in Southern MO (Taney County)

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Feral Hog Damage
Feral Hog Damage

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feral hog tracks in mud show round shape, blunted toes and wide dewclaw marks.
Front and Hind Feral Hog Tracks

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light-colored feral hog scat among fall leaves and twigs
Feral Hot Scat: Figure A

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dark-colored feral hog droppings among twigs
Feral Hog Scat: Figure B

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muddy wallows created by feral hogs in a forest
Hog Wallows
Habitat and conservation

Populations are small, isolated, and typically in remote, rugged terrain. Feral hogs require abundant water and spend much time near seeps, ponds, and streams. Problems caused by feral hogs increased in the 1990s when hogs escaped confinement or were released intentionally on public land. By 2000 private landowners were reporting significant damage.

Foods

Feral hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns and compete directly with native species such as deer and turkey for this important fall food. They also commonly eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds and anything else they encounter, including reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. They have also been known to kill and eat a variety of wildlife, including deer fawns.

image of Feral Hog Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Populations are established in several Missouri counties. Sightings occur across the state.

Status

Invasive.

Life cycle

Feral hogs can breed any time of year. Females can be mature at 6 months and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12–15 months. As a result, feral hog populations can double in four months. Although some piglets die within their first three months, feral hogs generally live to age four or five and sometimes to age eight. Feral hogs are mostly nocturnal. Sows and pigs often travel in groups called "sounders."

Human connections

Feral hogs damage property and can spread disease to humans, pets and livestock. If you see a feral hog, please report it to 573-522-4115, extension 3296.

Ecosystem connections

Feral hogs pose a serious concern to land owners and managers. Their rooting, wallowing, and feeding behaviors erode soil, reduce water quality, and damage agricultural crops and hay fields, as well as destroy sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens, and springs.

Signs & Tracks

Front track:

  • 2½ inches long
  • 2 hooves
  • Dewclaws sometimes showing as small crescents beside and behind hoof prints.

Hind track:

  • 2½ inches long
  • 2 hooves
  • Dewclaws sometimes show as dots beside and behind hoof prints.

Other notes:

  • Feral populations occur statewide but are usually small, isolated, and generally live in remote, rugged terrain.
  • Distinguished from other two-hoofed tracks by the blunt toe tips that also tend to spread.
  • Distinguished from deer by shorter length and more parallel hooves.
  • The hind tracks often appear just ahead of the front tracks.
  • Distance of stride is 18 inches, varying with gait.
Illustration of a single feral hog track