A pig's natural habitat is almost anywhere. They are among the most adaptable of mammals, and feral pigs -- the descendants of domestic pigs set loose -- thrive in various environments. If you want to replicate a habitat for your pet pig, it's not difficult, but you must include secure fencing. Neighbors won't appreciate your pig rooting on their property, and loose pigs can easily become feral pigs.
In nature, pigs forage. While you'll need a fair amount of land for your pigs to rely primarily on forage, high quality soils aren't necessary. Pigs consume almost anything. Porcine favorites include:
- Acorns and other tree nuts
- Insects and larvae
- Small mammals, such as rodents
- Newborn offspring of larger mammals -- including livestock
- Baby birds and reptiles
- Snakes and frogs
To everything there is a season, and that includes the type of food available for foraging pigs. Food is harder to come by in the fall and winter, so even if you have substantial acreage, expect to supplement your domestic pigs' meals with commercial pig chow, root vegetables or other feeds. If you have a large garden or farm field, plant root vegetables such as turnips for your pigs. They will delight in uprooting and eating them.
While your pigs should always have access to fresh, clean water, in nature pigs do well as long as there is water available within a day's walk of their foraging area.
Living in the Woods
Since rooting and digging are an integral part of pig behavior, keeping your pigs in the woods allows them to live naturally with minimal disturbance to cultivated lands. However, free-range pigs bring serious environmental concerns with their natural behaviors. In the woods, feral pigs consume large amounts of tree nuts, and significant numbers of pigs can affect a forest's ability to regenerate. They also root up and eat tree seedlings, and damage larger trees with intense rubbing and scent marking.
Year Round Breeding
Left to their own devices, pigs breed year-round. Sows generally give birth twice a year. The litters are smaller than in domestic pigs -- up to seven piglets per litter, and averaging two or three. The extreme fecundity of feral pigs adds to environmental damage.
Recognizing Wild Pigs
If you see feral pigs, you know they are in your neighborhood. However, there are telltale signs that you've got wild porcine visitors even if you never actually spot them. These include:
- Pig hoof prints
- Rub marks at the bottom or mid-section of trees and fence posts
- Large nests made of vegetation
- Heavily rooted areas
- Evidence of wallowing in wet areas.