Quick facts

Common names: wild boar, wild pig

Scientific name: Sus scrofa

Family: Suidae

Habitat: woodland

Diet: wide range of plant matter as well as carrion, invertebrates, small mammals and birds

Predators: adults have no natural predators in the UK

Origin: native, but current population the result of illegal releases and escapes

What do wild boar look like?

Wild boar have stocky, powerful bodies with a double layer of grey-brown fur – the top layer harsh, bristly hair; the under layer much softer. Mature males have tusks that protrude from the mouth. Piglets are a lighter ginger-brown, with stripes on their coat for camouflage.

Large animals, wild boar can stand up to 80cm at the shoulder. They normally weigh between 60–100kg, although males over 200kg have been reported in some parts of the world.

Did you know?

During the breeding season, male boar develop a thick layer of tissue to protect themselves from injury during fights.

What do wild boar eat?

Boar are omnivores and will eat a wide range of plant and animal matter. The majority of their diet is made up of roots, bulbs, seeds, nuts and green plants. However, as opportunistic feeders, they will eat much of what they come across on the forest floor. This can include carrion, small mammals, birds’ eggs, earthworms and other invertebrates.

Credit: Robin Ward / Alamy Stock Photo

How do wild boar breed?

Most boar live in groups known as sounders, made up of adult females and their young. Adult males are solitary, only seeking out females in the mating season, which takes place in winter. Rival males will fight using their tusks to determine access to females. A litter of up to 10 piglets is born in spring. Males will stay with the sounder until the piglets are around one year old. Females will either remain with the group or move into a new territory.

Where do wild boar live?

The current UK boar population is derived from captive animals that either escaped or were illegally released. An estimated 2,600 animals are now living wild in several breeding populations. The largest of these is in the Forest of Dean, but wild boar are also present in parts of South East and South West England, South East Wales and North West Scotland.

Did you know?

Wild boar are common on mainland Europe, with an estimated population of several million.

Credit: Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

Signs and spotting tips

Large areas of uprooted and disturbed soil are a tell-tale sign of wild boar presence. Powerful neck muscles and a long snout allow the animals to plough through the ground in search of food.Boar should always be treated with caution. Normally they will flee from people, but can be aggressive if they feel threatened, especially females with young. Dogs should be kept on leads in woods where boar are known to be present. If you encounter a wild boar, the best advice is to move away slowly in the opposite direction.

Did you know?

Boar are the wild ancestors of domestic pigs.

Threats and conservation

The status of wild boar in the UK is complicated. A native species, it was originally hunted to extinction at some point during the Middle Ages. In the 1990s, sightings of free-living boar became relatively common. These animals are thought to have escaped or been released from farms where they were raised for meat. The genetic make-up of these animals is uncertain, with many likely to have interbred with domestic pigs in captivity.

The wild boar’s presence divides opinion. While some welcome the return of a once-extinct native species, others are concerned about agricultural damage and collisions with traffic. It has been suggested that wild boar can have both a positive and negative impact on woodland biodiversity, but the exact impact is currently unclear.

They have no natural predators in the UK, meaning culls are being carried out in some areas in a bid to control population growth.