By Anna Livia
September 8, 2011
Javelina, Feral Hog, Wild Pig, European Wild Hog… Which one does not belong? A, B. C or D?
ANSWER: The anser is (A) Javelina.
Javelina is the only one that does not belong in that list. Why? The Feral Hog is the same thing as a wild pig (it’s literally a domestic pig gone wild.) And the European Wild Hog (nick name “Boar”) is a true “wild pig,” native to Europe. One that has not been domesticated. They are ALL three pigs. A pig and a hog are the same thing, just domesticated animals from the same family. The Pig Family (Suidae).
Not the Javelina. The Javelina is not even in the pig family. It is not a pig. It is not a hog. It is not a “boar”. It is a Javelina. That would be the Tayassuidae family. It has its very own family.
Apparently this animal which is native to Texas is truly misunderstood. After publishing the post “Where The Wild Things Are at Welder,” it was brought to my attention that there is still some confusion. I was asked in a text if the Feral Hog was just a cross between a pig and a Javelina and when I answered it was replied, “We were always told that was where the wild hogs came from.” (In reality wild hogs come from Europe, they are a European animal altogether and we have no native hogs on this continent. But we’ll get to that next.) The answer to this question is no. But this is an excellent question and it really draws attention to how misled people are about what a Javelina truly is.
You see, Javelina and pigs (hogs) are such totally different species that they can’t breed at all. They are not just different species, they are completely different families. A Javelina has no more in common with a pig than a cow does with a horse, and I mean this scientifically, not just as an expression. That is how little a Javelina has to do with a pig. You can’t breed cows and horses. You can’t breed hogs and Javelinas, they are that unrelated.
Another example: A dog is a domesticated version of a wolf. When domesticated dogs escape back to the wild, their off-spring might be a “wild dog.” Cats are domesticated version of wild cats. When domestic cats escape back into the wild their offspring become “feral cats.” They will never be mountain lions again. The wild dogs will never be wolves again, though they came from wolves.
On the other hand, a Feral Hog is merely the animal which results when an every day domestic pig (the farm animal) escapes from the farm and remains in the wild long enough (one generation). It will revert back to its ancestry and start to reclaim the traits of the animal it was before it was domesticated. A pig’s ancestor is the wild European Pig (Sus scrofa). When pigs escape they will once again become “wild” and that is the Feral Hog. Just a domestic pig going back to being a “wild boar.”
A wild pig, a feral pig and a domestic pig can all interbreed, yes. They are all pigs regardless of their degree of “wildness.” A wild European hog for instance is a true, undomesticated hog. When wild European hogs came to Amerca and mixed with domesticated pigs that had escaped back into the wild, the result was the Feral Hog. There are no pigs native to America, this continent, that’s why here they are just “Feral Hogs.” They are not native here, they are native in Europe, where they are simply “Wild Hogs.”
Anyhow, the words boar, pig, hog, wild boar, wild pig, wild hog etc. just means they are all some form of a pig (Sus scrofa) domestic, wild or feral. Just the same a pig. They are all the same animal varying only in the amount of wild in them.
Javelinas are not related to pigs at all. Javelinas are very different biologically. They also have never been domesticated and therefore there is no feral version of them.
In conclusion, a Javelina can’t cross with a pig, why? Simple, because it’s not a pig.
Hopefully this will put to bed any common myths, misconceptions, false assumptions, confusion, and misunderstandings about this animal being a pig or breeding with pigs. Not only do the Javelina get mistaken for pigs, they are also behaviorally very misunderstood as ferocious and agressive. Our beliefs about gorillas 50 years ago are drastically different now after we have learned more about them. Gorillas were believed to be monsters of a sort, like “King Kong.” Today we understand that gorillas are big, yes, vicious monsters, no. Our fears about them were merely a result of ignorance. The Javelina, similarly, misunderstood simply because of our lack of education on their biology. Refer to my article, “Where The Wild Things Are at Welder” and you can read about why.
I welcome and enjoy answering these kind of questions. I learned this only because you asked, then I asked a biologist. When you learn the answer to some long eluded vague question, things just come together and start to make sense. Or when we dispell some long misguided belief, it is a liberating experience. Keep those kind of questions coming! You helped me learn and understand something I didn’t know before you asked!! Thanks and join me for my next article which will be posted over the next few days. I am writing about my walks to Moody Creek at Welder, and we’re going to keep our minds open to learning, finding, discovering and enjoying, always, Mother Nature. Until the next time, stay wild!