What Do Wild and Feral Hogs Eat?
The wild hog (also known as the wild boar or feral pig) is simply a pig which lives in the wild as opposed to being kept as a domestic pet or reared for its meat. The term wild hog is a loose colloquial term used to describe any type of pig which lives in the wild. They are also commonly known as razorbacks, too.
Wild hogs which have been released or have escaped into the wild in areas where they are not native – North America, for example – are not typically considered to be feral, however, interbreeding does occur between wild and true feral hogs.
They can usually be found in heavy woodland areas but, as scavengers, it is not uncommon for them to be found in areas with heavy human activity such as village greens and golf courses which are typically close to woodland areas.
As a nuisance animal, they are a huge target for human hog hunters who want to i) control the population and ii) use them as a food source.
Wild and feral hogs aren’t the fussiest of eaters. In fact, they are very opportunistic animals which will eat just about anything. Meat, plants, crops… if it’s something which can be consumed, a wild hog will gladly chow down on it.
Meat and Fish
Wild hogs will gladly eat a vast range of animals. Smaller mammals, birds, insects, fish and reptiles are all viewed by feral hogs as a source of food. So far as smaller mammals are concerned, feral hogs have been known to eat younger livestock such as rabbits and deer foal. Other animals they prey on include sheep, goats and even cows, especially ones which have been weakened by sickness or injury.
An animal doesn’t need to be fresh, either. Wild hogs will gladly eat the remains of an animal which has been dead for a while which its pray did not want to eat, and they are more than happy to consume eggs too.
Plants and Vegetation
Plants and vegetation constitute a huge percentage of the wild hog’s diet. Just like with meat, wild hogs are not picky when it comes to which plants and bits of vegetation that they will eat. Just a few of the plants which a wild hog will eat includes grass, roots and bulbs, tubers, acorns, conifers and agricultural vegetation.
In fact, wild hogs are a huge pest for farmers. As scavengers, they regularly find their way into farmlands and will decimate crops such as wheat, rice, potatoes and oats.
Because wild hogs can comfortably live in a vast range of habitats – something largely helped by their non-fussy eating habits – such as deserts, woodlands and urbanized areas, they do not have a typical feeding pattern. Wild hogs will usually choose to live somewhere based on the availability of food sources.
Wild hogs tend to come out at night to eat and use their superior sense of smell to track down their food, this nighttime feeding pattern is an excellent opportunity for nocturnal hunters. They will rarely eat throughout the day unless it has been unseasonably cold or damp.
A great way to attract hogs in at night for the kill is to buy a feeder and set it up in a safe and open location for the hogs to feed from and then take your shot as they eat away. You can either attach a set of green feed lights to the feeder that will activate automatically or manually when they are feeding depending on which option you go for or, you can wait patiently and use your green gun mounted light to get a clear sight of them without spooking them while eating. Both options are viable if you use a green light at night, as hogs do not seem to be able to pick up or be spooked by this color of light being shone at them.
Wild Hog Predation
Wild hogs are not immune from predation and there are many animals which call them food. In addition to human beings (wild hogs are a popular animal for hunts), bobcats, wolves, bears, birds of prey such as eagles and even crocodiles and alligators all see the wild hog as a premium food source.
Given that wild hogs and boars can grow very, very big, predation is mostly a problem for younger hogs which are smaller, weaker and not as wise as their older counterparts.