Species Of Pigs
The true pigs include four species in the genus Sus. The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the progenitor of the domestic pig. This species is native to the temperate regions of Europe, North Africa, and temperate and tropical Asia. The wild boar has been introduced far beyond its original range, and now occurs widely in parts of North America, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many other islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Wild boars can reach a weight of up to 770 lb (350 kg). The curved, sharp tusks of large boars can reach a length of 9 in (23 cm). These formidable tusks are used as slashing weapons, and for cutting and digging up food. Wild boars live in social groups, commonly consisting of one or several mature females and their offspring, which can total as many as 12 in a single litter, although the usual number is smaller. Mature male animals tend to live by themselves, except during the breeding season.
Wild boars live in an extremely varied range of habitats, from dry prairies and savannas to wet swamps, and from lowland near sea level to montane and alpine ecosystems as much as 13,120 ft (4,000 m) in elevation. In addition, wild boars will eat an amazingly wide range of foods. Wild boars are primarily vegetarian, feeding on fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, and rhizomes, with the relative importance of these in the diet varying geographically and with seasonal availability. However, wild boars will also opportunistically avail themselves of any animal foods that present themselves, including animals that are found dead as carrion, as well as those that can be easily predated, such as the eggs or nestlings of ground-nesting birds, or slow-moving rodents, frogs, or reptiles. Other than humans, wild boars may be more omnivorous than any other animal.
The bearded pig (Sus barbatus) occurs in tropical rainforests and mangrove forests of Malaysia and the Sunda Islands of Indonesia. This species can achieve a weight of up to 330 lb (150 kg), and it develops a beard of long hairs on its cheeks. Bearded pigs live in family groups or larger herds, which roam through the jungle looking for fallen fruits and other foods. Bearded pigs are relatively sedentary in most parts of their range, but in northeastern Borneo they undertake seasonal migrations in large numbers. Because these movements involve routes that are traditionally used, and are known to human hunters, these bearded pigs can be easily killed in large numbers during their migration.
The Javan pig (Sus verrucosus) occurs in grasslands, forests, and swamps on the islands of Java and Sulawesi in Indonesia, and also in some of the Philippine islands. Javan pigs can weigh as much as 330 lb (150 kg). The pygmy hog (Sus salvanius) occurs in forests of the southern Himalayas, particularly Nepal. This is a very rare species of pig, and can achieve a weight of about 440 lb (200 kg).
The bush pigs (Potamochoerus porcus) occur in tropical-forest habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa and on Madagascar. Boars of these species have well developed and sharp canine teeth. These animals generally forage in small groups at dusk or during the night.
The warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) is a barrel-shaped animal of the extensive savannas and open forests of central and southern Africa. The warthog has a big head decorated with large skin warts, and huge, outcurving tusks, which can be as long as 26.8 in (68 cm), but are more usually about 11.8 in (30 cm). Warthogs feed most actively during the day.
The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni) is a rare species that occurs in tropical rain-forests of central Africa. Although the giant forest hog is a large animal, weighing as much as 297 lb (135 kg), it is shy and lives deep in relatively inaccessible habitats, and was not known to science until 1904.
The babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) is a strange-looking, almost hairless pig of swampy jungles and reedy thickets of Sulawesi and nearby islands in Indonesia. This species grows as large as 220 lb (100 kg). Some old boars can grow enormous, curling, upper tusks as long as 16.9 in (43 cm), that can develop as a complete, 360-degree circle. The upper canines of babirusa boars actually curl and grow upwards, and penetrate right through the skin of the upper jaw, so the head is actually protected by four, curling tusks, two on each side.