The average wild hog in Mississippi is a mix of domestic swine gone feral and wild European boar which were released around the state. Most wild hogs are black to “grizzled” in color. The average adult boar (male) will be about 4 to 5 feet in length and stand approximately 30 inches at the shoulder. Adult sows (females) are slightly smaller. The adult males average about 250 to 300 pounds in weight, and animals tipping the scales at 400 pounds or more is not unheard of. Females average about 150 to 180 pounds. One of the distinguishing characteristics of both males and females are their large modified canine teeth called “tusks” by many. The true term for the lower modified canines is “tushes” while the upper modified canines are called “whetters.” The action of the lower tushes rubbing against the upper whetters is called “whetting.” It’s this process that keeps the tushes razor sharp. These modified canines are primarily used as weapons against other wild hogs and predators. To help defend themselves against attacks from other boars, males will develop a “shield” on their shoulders that helps to protect them from their opponent’s tushes. These shields can be a couple of inches thick and have been known to stop a hunter’s bullet or arrow. Without hunting and under good conditions, the average life expectancy for a wild hog is about 4 to 5 years. However, they can live up to 8 years of age.
The explosion of wild hog numbers across the state is due in part to its prolific breeding capacity. A sow can breed at 6 months of age. The average estrous cycle of the wild hog averages about 21 to 23 days. The period of estrous or “heat” typically lasts 48 hours. Once bred, the gestational period usually last 115 to 120 days with the sow farrowing (“farrow” is derived from the old English term “fearh,” meaning “young pigs”) or giving birth to about 4 to 6 piglets. However, under good conditions, 10 to 12 young are not unheard of. Studies have shown that in years of good mast production, the proportion of reproductively active females is higher than in years of poor mast production. Thus, reproduction is very closely tied to available food resources.
Sows can have two litters a year with the peak farrowing occurring in late fall and early spring. The late fall period corresponds with the acorn drop and the early spring peak coincides with spring “green‑up.” Studies have shown that the spring farrowing period is the peak of production for the entire year.
After birth, the young pigs will depend on their mother for nourishment until they are weaned in about 2 to 3 months. After that, the sow will join other sows and their young in a group called a “drift.” Males are mostly solitary individuals with no real fixed home range. The only time they associate with other hogs is during the breeding season.