More Wild Boar Facts

Wild boar image taken in Maremma Tuscany

This page is Part Two of the 175 Wild Boar Facts about the Italian wild boar that roam and root in the woodlands and nature parks and reserves in Maremma, Italy.

Most of this wild boar information is also applicable to all wild boar. It covers the following:

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

The link for Wild Boar Facts - Part One - is at the bottom of this page.


Wild Boar Facts

Part Two

Wild Boar Life History & Reproduction

105. Depending upon the climate and availability of food, the female boar will have one to three breeding cycles per year.

106. In Italy, the births are concentrated from the end of spring to the end of summer.

107. Female boar tend to synchronize their cycles in such a way as to raise litters of the same age together and, hence, maximise the possibility of their survival.

Wild Boar Facts: Wild boar mating habits

108. During the mating season, male boar abandon their solitary life and join the sounders. They often cover long distances without stopping for food or rest in order to reach the sounder as soon as possible. No forward planning then!

109. The first thing a male boar does upon joining the sounder is to remove the young offspring still living with their mothers.

110. The presence of numerous males within the group generates tensions that are often resolved in violent combat.

111. During this period the male boar develops an "armour" of cutenaneous and adipose thickening that covers the shoulders until the height of the last rib.

112. When in combat the male boar butt head against head, parrying the blows with their "armour". This does not, however, prevent the procurement of all lesions, including serious ones.

113. Before this real combat begins, male boar complete a series of ritual face to face threats with the spraying of urine, the scraping of the ground, the violent knocking of teeth and the frothing of saliva to intimidate their adversaries.

114. Only if this ritual doesn't discourage one of the boar, does combat begin.

115. The winner then commences courtship of the females in the sounder by following the nearest female and emitting a sound similar to the rumble of an internal combustion engine.

116. When he reaches her he starts to massage her back and flanks with his snout, emitting at the same time rhythmical sounds. The female, when ready to couple, becomes immobile, appears hypnotized, and allows the male to mount her. The coupling lasts about five minutes.

117. The male boar then repeats the whole courtship ritual with other females within the group - up to eight for the stronger and more vigorous males - until the females breeding cycle comes to an end.

At which point he abandons the group until the next time and returns to his solitary life.

118. The gestation period for the wild boar is up to five months. In Italy, popular expression describes the gestation period as "tre mesi, tre settimane, e tre giorni" - three months, three weeks, and three days.

119. When the female is near to giving birth - called "farrowing" - she isolates herself from the rest of the sounder to construct a lair within thick vegetation, similar to those constructed as resting places for the night.

120. The females lair often have openings to the south so as to aid heating of the lair from the suns rays.


Wild Boar Facts: Wild boar piglets

Wild Boar Piglets
Wild Boar Piglets

121. It is here that the wild boar piglets are born: varying in number from three to twelve per litter.

122. Upon birth the piglets eyes are open and they scrable to find one of the mothers twelve nipples.

123. The coat of the piglets is brownish or reddish/ruddy, with four or five horizontal stripes of between white and beige, and further striations along their shoulders and posterior.

124. This colouring provides the young with a good camouflage as it perfectly mimics that of the woodland undergrowth and blankets of dead leaves.

125. The arrangement of the wild boar piglets stripes varies from piglet to piglet and so it is possible to recognise individual young within a litter.

126. The stripes fade by the time the piglet is about half-grown, when the animal takes on the adult's grey or brown colouring.

127. During the first week after giving birth, the female boar very rarely leaves the lair and litter. If she does so, she covers the piglets with branches and leaves.

128. Female boar are extremely protective towards their young and during the development of the litter will attack any intruder who could represent a threat to them. It is particularly dangerous, therefore, to walk through woods known to be home to "cinghiale" during the breeding season.

129. At a week old the piglets are able to follow their mother outside of the lair, returning only at night.

130. At two weeks old, the piglets begin to root for and eat solid food. They continue to suckle, however, until they reach three months of age.

131. Weaning is completed only after the four months and it is only then that the female re-joins the sounder with her young. It is also at four months that the piglets loose their immature coloring and take on the colouring of young adults.

132. Wild boar piglets become independent at seven months old, but tend to remain with their mother until about a year old when they are driven away by the adult males at the next breeding cycle (if not beforehand).

133. Female boar become sexually mature at around a year and a half of age, whilst male boar do so later at around two years old.

134. It is rare, however, for a young male to mate for the first time before the age of five due to competition from older males.


Wild Boar Facts: Life span of wild boars

135. Wild boars live for about ten years, but can reaches ages of up to thirty years.



Wild Boar Facts: Predators

136. Wild boar are large and strong animals that do not hesitate to attack first if disturbed. For this reason alone it is quite rare that a predator will choose to hunt a boar over other animals less challenging to catch.

137. The principle predator for boar is man.

138. Tigers hunt boar, but there are none in Maremma!

139. However, Maremma does have wolves which are a formidible predator for boar. Although wolves more usually feed upon piglets temporarily left unattended, some populations (Italian, Siberian and Spanish) habitally also hunt adult boar.

140. The wolves method of hunting boar is rarely directly as the likelihood of a wolf being slaughtered by the boar before it is overcome by other wolves is too high. Rather a wolf will attack the boars shoulders whilst another is distracting it, and then the soft unprotected flesh of the perineum until the animal bleed to death.

141. The hunting of boar by wolves has led to boar being more aggresive when confronted by dogs.

142. Other occasional predators are large bear (who tend to pray upon boar in the run up to winter when they need to increase their energy stores), the striped hyena (but only the sub-species of considerable size with any success) and adult crocodiles.

I was going to add that there are none of these animals in Maremma, but there is a tale of a large crocodile in a lake near Massa Marittima!



Wild Boar Facts: Hunting Wild Boar

143. Since the Mesolithic age, man has actively hunted wild boar for food.

144. The invention of the arrow significantly reduced the dangers of hunting these animals.

145. In ancient Roman society and during the middle ages, the hunting of "cinghiale" for food was a daily occurence.

Wild Boar Bronze Statue
Wild Boar Bronze Statue

146. To kill a large male boar was considered as a test of courage, since the boar if wounded became extremely dangerous.

In Italy in the year 799, the killing of a boar with a lance by a Carlo Magno was a feat highly regarded and recorded by Pope Leone III.

147. Wild boar hunting was laterly undertaken on horse-back with the use of large dogs wearing wide iron collars to protect them from the bites of the boar. Some of the collars extended also covered the head or torso of the dog.

148. The function of these hunting dogs was to tire out the boar, biting and chasing it until exhausted the boar collapsed in a position where the hunter could finish the kill from a distance.

149. The development of the firearm rendered the hunting of boar much less dangerous and nobles of the period killed boar in their hundreds.

150. This, together with the continued hunting of boar by local populations for food - even though it was prohibited by law - led to the decimation of wild boar numbers in large parts of Europe.

151. At the present time in industrialized countries, the hunting of wild boar is now a sport or hobby.

152. In Maremma and wider Tuscany, wild boar hunting is regulated and undertaken by hunters, "cacciatore", in groups. It is a very popular sport, but not without its inherent dangers. Accidental shootings during hunting trips are reported every year.


Wild Boar Facts: Relationship with man

153. In their native woodland environment, the continuous rootings of wild boars in the superficial layer of the woodland floor is of benefit to the woodland. It contributes to the aeration of the earth and the lessening of the presence of the lavae of harmful insects and seed burial. Thus preserving the development of the woodland mantle.

154. A reduction by man of this woodland habitat, however, has forced the concentration in restricted areas of a large number of wild boar. This has led in the longer term to the destruction of the arboreal cover through the boars consumtion of a higher proportion of seeds and young plants within an area than would otherwise have been the case.

155. A link has also been demonstrated between the forced concentraton of these animals and the lessening of the presence of deer and fowl, such as the red pellet and pheasant.

156. In areas in which wild boar have been deliberately introduced, over time their considerable numbers have supplanted other species of pig, devastated the forest areas with their continuous excavations, and caused a significant decline in the numbers of species of reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial birds through the consumption of their eggs.

157. For this reason, in many areas in which the boar has been introduced, they are periodically hunted in order to drastically reduce their number.

158. In cases where the wild boar habitat is confined by rural areas, the boar will not hesitate during the night to leave the cover of the woodland to venture into agricultural land. Here they cause considerable damage to crops and the farm land with their rootings for food.

159. In areas of considerable demographic pressure, the wild boar will leave the woodlands in nocturnal sorties into peripheral city areas and rubbish dumps where they will feed upon waste organic material and can cause damage to vehicles in the area.



Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Heraldry

160. Wild boar may be commonly found in heraldry, where their representation is considered to be a reflection of their positive qualities: courage and fierceness in battle.

161. Its presence may be found in coats of arms in both northern and southern Italy. It is the symbol of the city of Benevento and l'Abruzzo Citra.

162. It is also a long-standing symbol of the city of Milan. In Andrea Alciato's Emblemata (1584), beneath a woodcut of the first raising of Milan's city walls, a boar is seen lifted from the excavation. The foundation of Milan is credited to two celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedi, having as their emblems a ram and a boar respectively.

163. At least three Roman Legions are knkown to have had a boar as their emblems: Legio I Italica, Legio X Fretensis, and Legio XX Valeria Victrix.



Wild Boar Facts: Commercial uses

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Products

164. Wild boar meat is highly regarded and considered a delicacy in many areas - with the exception of in those countries where religion prohibits the eating of pigs.

165. As a consequence many boar are now farmed specifically for their meat.

166. The consumption of wild boar meat has been linked to the transmission of Hepatitis E in Japan.

167. Up until the 1930's boar hair from around the neck of the boar was often used for the production of toothbrushes.

168. Boar hair is also used in the manufacture of hairbrushes, shaving brushes and paint brushes. In respect of the latter, these brushes are ideal for oil painting as the boar bristles are sufficiently stiff to spread the paint well, and the naturally split tip of the untrimmed bristle also holds paint well.


Wild Boar Facts: Wild boar in the Italian kitchen

Wild Boar Facts: Wild Boar Meat

169. In Italy, wild boar meat mainly comes from farms or wild boar hunted in Hungary, the Balkans and central Europe.

170. Before being sold, the meat is legally required to be tested for infection.

171. However, this doesn't happen in all cases. Wild boar slaughtered by hunters in Italy - it is a common male past-time in rural Maremma and Tuscany - often finds itself upon the families table without such examination. The fee for the test is an expense many cannot afford, wish to pay, or consider necessary.

And then there are the boar killed by poachers...

172. In Maremma not so many years ago, miners would supplement their income and own food supplies by hunting wild boar in Maremma's woods and selling the animals (along with deer and pheasants) to butchers in nearby Rome, keeping some for their families consumption.


Wild Boar Facts: Preserving and Cooking Wild Boar Meat

173. Cinghiale meat is rather fibrous and as such is best cooked in the "padella" (frying pan) as a wild boar stew, "in umido", or sauce. A wonderful example is the pappardelle pasta with wild boar sauce, or the "cinghiale alla Maremma". Mmmm!

174. Boar meat does not need to be hung or left to mature. Indeed, it does not keep for as long as other meats.

175. It is for this reason that before the advent of household refrigerators, in order to store wild boar meat for periods of longer than a day or two, it was salted and dried to make wild boar ham "prosciutto", or made into salami or sausages "salsicci".


Missed Part One of Maremma Wild Boar Facts? This link will take you to more information about these European wild boar.

  • Their 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?


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: click here to read more.




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