Maremma
Wild Boar Facts

All you ever wanted to know about wild boar
and more!

Wild boar head

Looking for wild boar facts? The wild and untamed countryside of Maremma in Tuscany and Lazio is home to many wild boar some of whom root for food right down to the edge of the pine woods along Maremma's spectacular beaches.

Here you will find 175 facts about these Italian wild boar, the majority of which also apply to all wild boar.

On this page you will find wild boar information about:

  • names and terminology
  • scientific classification
  • taxonomy
  • conservation status
  • distribution
  • description: dimensions, appearance - hooves, tail, head, teeth and tusks, skin and coat.
  • habits: lairs, groups, territories, communication, temperament, hygiene, and
  • feeding.

A Maremma wild boar

On the next page - More Wild Boar Facts - the information about these European wild boar covers:

  • reproduction: mating habits, piglets, lifespan
  • predators
  • relationship with man
  • heraldry
  • hunting
  • commercial uses
  • wild boar in the Italian kitchen

 

Wild Boar Pictures

If you take a drive in Maremma's hills or through her countryside during early evening you will more than likely see boar along the route - if not also "caprioli" (deer), and porcupine ("istrice") procupine - and be able to take your own pictures of wild boar.

NOTE: I would highly recommend that you drive at a slower than perhaps normal pace - it is Italy after all anyway! - and continously scan either side of the road. Maremma's boar can reach up to 150 kg in weight and even an average sized animal will wreak your car if you are unfortunate enough to collide with one.

My pictures of wild boar on this and the following page were taken in a tiny hamlet in Maremma called Montioni where it is possible to meet wild boars close-up. Click on this take your own wild boar pictures in Maremma link to find out more and view more of my own wild boar photos taken there.


Wild Boar Facts

Part One

Names and terminology

1. Although the term boar is used to denote the adult male of certain species, for wild boar it applies to the whole species, including the females and piglets.

2. The Italian for wild boar is "cinghiale", although it is also known by other names.

3. The term "solengo" refers to an adult male "cinghiale" that usually exceed 70-80 kg in weight, lives a solitary existence and only approaches female boars at mating time.

They are very much sought by hunters for the trophy of their sharp tucks, but make extremely dangerous adversaries for the mute beating dogs used in the hunt.

4. The term "nero" refers to a "cinghiale" of which the sex is unknown and which weighs more than 60 kg when alive.

5. The term "porcastro" is a typical expression of hunters indicating a "cinghiale" that has a weight less than 60 kg when disemboweled.

6. The same term is used in the north of Italy in the besciano dialect until Piemonte, to indicate the offspring of a male "cinghiale" with a feminine domestic pig.

7. Italy has many dialects: some other terms for "cinghiale" are:

Region Name
Calabria Cignàli
Campania cignàle
Lazio cignale
Piemonte cinghial, pòrs sarvaj, tasson-pòrs, tasson-crin
Sardegna sirbone, sirboni, porcrabu, polcrabu, sibròne

 

Wild Boar Facts: Scientific Classification

8. The wild boar is a mammal of the Family Suidae and the wild ancestor of the domestic pig.

The full scientific classification is:

Kingdom: Animalia
Sub-kingdom: Eumetazoa
Superphylum: Deuteostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Sub-phylum: Vertebrata
Super-class: Gnathostomata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Sub-order: Suiformes
Family: Suidae
Genus: Sus
Species: S. scrofa

 

Binomial name: Sus scrofa
Linnaeus, 1758

9. Maremman wild boar - the Sub-species Sus scrofa majori - are one of the original sub-species to have existed in Italy and are now found throughout central Italy. It is smaller than scrofa but proportionately has a larger and wider skull.

10. In Sardinia the Sub-species is Sus scofa meridonalis a small Sub-species, probably the result of breeding between pigs introduced on the island by man for domestication.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Taxonomy

11. Originally the taxonomy of wild boar was determined by the relative forms and lengths of their lacrimal bones ("canali lacrimali").

12. Maremman wild boar, as with other European sub-species, have longer lacrimal bones than the Asian sub-species.

13. With the advent of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis the taxonomy has been revised from thirty-one subspecies (including the common pig) to sixteen subspecies, unofficially sub-divided into four race or breed groups.

14. The sixteen subspecies comprise:

* Sus scrofa algira Loche, 1867
* Sus scrofa attila Thomas, 1912
* Sus scrofa cristatus Wagner, 1839
* Sus scrofa davidi Groves, 1981
* Sus scrofa leucomystax Temminck, 1842
* Sus scrofa libycus Gray, 1868
* Sus scrofa majori De Beaux e Festa, 1927
* Sus scrofa meridionalis Major, 1882
* Sus scrofa moupinensis Milne-Edwards, 1871
* Sus scrofa nigripes Blanford, 1875
* Sus scrofa riukiuanus Kuroda, 1924
* Sus scrofa scrofa Linneo, 1758
* Sus scrofa sibiricus Staffe, 1922
* Sus scrofa taivanus Swinhoe, 1863
* Sus scrofa ussuricus Heude, 1888
* Sus scrofa vittatus Boie, 1828

15. And the four unofficial groups:

* Indian
* Indonesian
* Western
* Oriental

16. There are chromosomal differences between these races: European wild boar with the exclusion of Spanish, French and Sardinian wild boar, posses 38 chromosomes. The same number of chromosomes as domestic pigs.

Whereas Spanish, French, Sardinian, Indian, Indonesian, and Oriental wild boar posses 36 chromosomes.

17. Boars with 36 and 38 chromosomes can successfully mate producing fertile offspring with 37 chromosomes.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Conservation Status

18. Although during the course of the last thousand years the wild boar population has been decimated several times, due to reintroduction and moreover its resitance and adaptability as a species, its conservation status is now considered to be of least concern.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Distribution

19. Wild boar originated in Eurasia and North Africa.

20. Largely decimated by 1900 from hunting, wild boar in Italy now may be found discontinuosly from the Valle d'Aosta to Calabria, in Sardinia, Sicily, the Island of Elba and other small islands. In the latter case having recently been been introduced by man.

Less numerous populations may be found in the pre-Alpine regions and on the "monti" di Lombardia, Veneto, Trentino and Fruili.

21. The original sub-species of wild boar living in Italy were the Sus scrofa majori of Maremma, Sus scorfa meridonalis in Sardegna (Sardinia) and other now extinct sub-species diffusely spread in northern Italy.

22. The Sardinian sub-species, however, is genetically distinct from its continental "cousins", originating from semi-domestic pigs imported by man to the island in ancient times.

23. Habitat wise, wild boar prefer mature oak woods - of which Maremma is largely covered. But they are very adaptable in terms of habit and will colonize practically every type of environment with the exception of desert areas where water is scarce, and high mountainous rocky regions where snow is prevalent and where it is too hard to root for food.

 

 

Wild Boar Facts: Description

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Dimensions

Wild Boar Skeleton
Wild Boar Skeleton


24. The average weight of wild boar varies depending upon sub-species, with a tendency for their weight to increase the further south-east and north-east across their native Eurasian geographical range that they are found.

25. In the Italian Alps the weight of the "neri" - black, grey-black adult boar ranges between 100 kg and 200 kg. Whereas in he centre of Italy, the average weight is between 80-90 kg. In rarer cases reaching up to 150 kg.

26. Wild boars shot in Tuscany have had recorded weights of 150 kg (331 lb).

27. For comparison, the average weight of the species as a whole is between 50-90 kg. With Spanish boar rarely exceeding 80 kg, and Romanian and Russian boars known to reach wieghts of 300 kg (661 lb).

28. Male boar are larger and heavier than female boar.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Appearance

29. The wild boar has a solid constitution, with a square body and short and rather thin legs.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Hooves

Wild Boar hooves
30. Every foot is equipped with four hooves ("zoccoli").

31. The two front ones are larger and more sturdy than the rear and rest directly upon the land.

32. The two lateral ones are shorter and only come into contact with land when the boar walks on ground that is soft ("soffici") or muddy (fangosi").

In these circumstances, the boars hooves offer the animal a better distribution of weight and help prevent it sinking.

34. Notwithstanding its small feet, wild boar can move rather fast, usually at a trot.

35. But they can also gallop for short distances, for eaxmple when charging or escaping danger.

 

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Tail

36. The wild boar tail ("coda") is pendulous, hanging down from its body, and can measure up to 40 cm in length.

37. It is entirely covered in bristle ("setole"), forming a small quiff ("ciuffetto") at its tip.

38. Note! The boar nervously shakes its tail when it is when it is annoyed or irritated.

 

Wild Boar Facts: The Wild Boar Head

39. The head ("testa") of a wild boar is large and solid with a long muzzle ("muso") that ends with a cartilaginous snout ("grugno").

40. The snout rests upon a muscular disc which enables the animal to move it with great mobility and precision.

41. It is also rich in nerves providing the boar with great sensitivity.

42. The snout is attached to the muzzle by virtue of a very long pre-nasal bone, the "fognaiuolo".

43. The forehead, especially in old male boar, is practically perpendicular to the rest of the muzzle.

44. The boars neck ("collo") is short and stocky. In the winter months, when the animal is covered with thicker hair, it can appear to be completely absent with the head looking as though it rests directly upon its torso.

45. The boars eyes are rather small and are positioned laterally on either side of the skull which gives the animal the widest scope of vision possible and makes it difficult to surprise him.

46. The boars sight is weak however compared to its senses of smell and sound.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Tusks and Teeth

Wild Boar Tusks
Wild Boar Tusks


47. The wild boar has 44 teeth which reveal its opportunistic feeding habits. They comprise of twelve incisors, four canines, sixteen premolars and twelve molars.

48. The incisors and premolars tend to fall out with age.

49. The molars have a flattened form and serve to crush food.

50. It is the canines, however, that are the main characteristic of wild boar. Often referred to as tusks ("zanne"), the canine teeth are present in both sexes and continue to grow throughout the animals life.

51. It is only in the male wild boar, however, that they reach sufficient proportions to protrude outside of the animals mouth, curving upwards.

52. It is the inferior canines that are the proper tusks. Larger than the superior canines, they are deeply buried within the animals jaw and can reach in exceptional cases up to 30 cm in length.

53. Normal lengths are between 15 cm and 20 cm, with less than half of this length visibly protruding from the boars mouth.

54. The wild boar dental set:

Molar
Premolar
Canines
Incisors
Incisors
Canines
Premolar
Molar
3
4
1
3
3
1
4
3
3
4
1
3
3
1
4
3

 

55. In the female boar the inferior canines always measure less than 10 cm. The the superior canines are also small and turn downwards.

56. Only in the older female boar is there a tendency for the inferior canines - the tusks - to curve upwards.

57. The combination of rubbing between superior and inferior canines and between superior canines and inferior incisors maintains the tusks raser sharp.

58. For the boar, their tusks serve two purposes. The animal uses them like tools, for example in digging the earth and rooting whilst rooting for food.

And as defensive and offensive instruments in defending themselves against predators, or competing with other males during the mating season.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Skin and Coat

59. The skin of wild boar is very thick, with pads of subcutaneuos adipose tissue but very little blood supply. It is in effect an armour virtually rendering the boar immune to insect or viper bites (unless attacked in more vulnerable points), or punctures from spiney plants within the woods in which it lives.

60. The boar is nearly completely covered (with the exception of parts of the head and the lower parts of the legs) with rigid bristles.

61. These bristles, mixed with a finer and softer fur undercoat, enable the animal to thermally isolate its body from external temperatures.

62. On the forehead and shoulders the boars mantle forms a type of mane, more evident on some sub-species than others.

63. When the animal is irritated or frightened the mane becomes straightened, rendering the appearance of the boar larger and more solid than reality.

64. The boars winter coat is thick ("folto") and dark in colour.

65. During the spring months the majority of the undercoat and bristles are shed and the boar takes on a lighter colour.

66. The general colour of a boars coat varies according to population and region. The colour ranges from tawny-brown to grey-black.

67. Whitish, although not albino, boar have been known to occur in central Asia. In western Russia ther are many red boar, and in Manchuria there are many examples of nearly black boar.

68. Very rarely (about three boar in every 100 years) adult boars with large and dark mantles are recorded. Such boar are mutations from the more recent crossing of boar with domestic pigs.

 

 

Wild Boar Facts: Habits

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Lairs

69. Wild boar have a twilight and nocturnal habit, foraging from dusk until dawn interspersed with resting periods.

70. During the day they find shelter in holes in the earth between bushes that they excavate using their muzzles and the hooves ("gli zoccoli").

71. Thet are the only hoofed animals known to dig burrows.

72. These enlarge with use and during the winter become stuffed thick with branches and dry leaves.

73. Numerous rest points may be found along the course of the boars nocturnal runs, connecting their foragging areas and drinking troughs with their main lairs.

74. Some individuals have been observed tearing tall grasses and canes in order to form shelters between low branches and bushes.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Groups

Wild Boar Sounder
Wild Boar Sounder


75. Boar are social animals and live in groups called "sounders".

76. The sounders typically contain twenty of so animals, comprising adult females and their litters under the leadership of the oldest wild boar sow of the group.

77. In areas with plentiful food supply, it is possible to find groups of fifty or more boar.

78. Older adult male boars are not part of the sounder outside of a breeding cycle and tend to lead a solitary life for the majority of the year.

79. Young males who have not yet mated tend to gather together in groups.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Territories

80. Each group of boar has their own territory that covers an area of twenty or so square kilometres.

81. The boar mark the delineation of their territory with odorous secretions from the lips and anal zones.

82. The territories of the males are usually larger than those of the females, reaching twice the size.

83. Generally a wild boar group remains in the same territory, abandoning it only if food supplies become insufficient to sustain it in search of areas richer in food. This explains the unexpected presence of boar in areas where historically their presence would not have been contemplated. For example, the suburbs of Milan!

84. The presence of water within their territories is of fundamental importance to boar and they never stray far. A fact well known and utilised by man in the hunting and traping of these animals.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Communication

85. Wild boar communicate between themselves through the use of a vast range of sounds that comprise a series of grunts ("grugnuti") of various frequencies, and shrieks and roars.

86. These sounds are thought to be used to convey territorial ownership of a group, in mating and combat.

87. They are accompanied by communication through the animals sense of smell using body odours and glandular secretions.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Temperament

88. Wild boar are famous for their aggresive temperament. If surprised or cornered, a boar (particularly a sow with her piglets) will defend itself with and its young intense vigor. Even if hurt or debilitated they will attack without a second thought, fighting courageously.

89. The difference between the form of the tusks between the two sexes leads to a different reaction when confronted with danger. Male boar lower their head, charge and then slash upwards with their tusks.

90. Female boar, whose tusks are not visible, chrage with their heads up mouths wide open, and repeatedly bite their aggressors.

91. Although wild boar attacks are rarely fatal for their large predators, such as the bear, they often leave permanent reminders in the form of scars and mutilations.

 

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Hygiene

Wild Boar Mud Pool
Wild Boar Mud Pool


92. Notwithstanding popular belief that wild boar are dirty animals, they keep themselves very clean.

93. Their habit of rolling in mud serves a variety of functions. It refreshes the animals body during the hot summer months, and the mud covering it gathers protects it from scorching from the suns rays.

94. It serves to heal numerous wounds, minor and serious, that the animal has procured from moving around in the spiny underbush or in combat.

95. And to protect against various parasites.

96. In order to scrape off dried mud from its back, boar periodically rubs against vertical objects such as trees (especially red oaks and firs).

97. In the absence of pools of water the boar will shift soil with its snout and urinate in the depression, rolling within the resultant paste.

98. Sometimes a group will practice a kind of grooming, smoothing down each others back fur with their tongues and snouts.

 

 

Wild Boar Facts: Feeding

Wild Boar Facts: What do wild boars eat?

99. Wild boar are omnivorous ("onnivoro"), but mainly eat vegetable matter, such as grass, acorns, nuts, fruit, berries, tubers, roots, and mushrooms. And refuse! In fact, in fact almost anything that they come across!

100. When acorns are particularly plentiful, however, the boar will choose to eat very little else!

101. Their stomachs only comprise of two compartments, unlike the three of sheep or the four of ruminants.

102. Occasionally they will eat insects and small reptiles, eggs and sometimes meat and fish. The latter mainly having been unearthed or found in pools of water.

103. And every now and then they will actively hunt, not only choosing small victims such as frogs or snakes, but also fawns and lambs.

104. Their very fine sense of smell enables them to sniff out food, including that located underground.

 

Explore some more...

Go to the next page - More Wild Pig Facts - for information about:

  • reproduction: mating habits, piglets, lifespan
  • predators
  • relationship with man
  • heraldry
  • hunting
  • commercial uses
  • wild boar in the Italian kitchen

 

With thanks for these wild boar facts to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. These wild boar facts have been compiled from the information for "cinghiale" within the Italian version of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

 

 

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