Wild boar breeding and humbugs

How often do wild boar really breed?

We get told, and read in the press, year after year, that wild boar give birth ‘3 times a year, to 15 piglets at a time’ this is simply not true and biologically impossible as the gestation (period of fetal development from the time of conception until birth) period for a wild boar is 120 days. Add to this the time to find a mate, and to raise the piglets to an age they can wean there is simply no way a sow will be able to give birth to multiple litters year after year. In very rare cases, eg. if a sow loses all her young or has a failed pregnancy she may give birth twice in a year, but this is far from the norm.


Wild boar can give birth any time of year but the most common time is from the end of Jan through to April. She will give birth to an average of 4-6 piglets, or humbugs as they are known locally, due to their striped coats.


For this reason, we want everyone to PLEASE be aware of this. If you walk your dog in the forest, you need to be extra cautious, while it is rare for a wild boar to launch an unprovoked attack on a dog, if the dog threatens the nest, like any mum of any species, they will defend their brood.


It is best to avoid dense undergrowth when walking in the woods, unless experienced around these animals, and do not let your dog out of sight at any time, not just because of wild boar, but for the sake of deer, foxes, birds etc. It won’t be a great day if you see you dog chase a deer into the road and cause a crash, this happens a lot more than you’d think in the Forest of Dean. If you have a dog who likes to explore or maybe just has selective hearing when it comes to recall, keep them on a lead.


Statutory Instrument 1982 No 648 ‘THE FORESTRY COMMISSION BYELAWS’ states the following:


No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners:-


xii. permit any animal in his charge to be out of control;


xiv. permit a dog for which he is responsible to disturb, worry or chase any bird or animal or, on being requested by an officer of the Commissioners, fail to keep the dog on a leash


This is in places to ensure your dog, and yourself, are kept safe and minimise the risk of injury from a protective sow.


But, please don’t let this put you off enjoying the woods, we know 100s of dogs walkers who take dogs around the forest every day and never have a problem, they are just aware that under any tree or behind any gorse bush could be a nest of an animal and respect this.


Learn how to identify fresh signs, which may point to boar being nearby, check out our other page for these signs -> https://theboaringtruth.org/field-signs


While in the nest mum will stay close by, but once the piglets reach a couple weeks old they start to explore, and that’s when, if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of these special animals.


There is room for us all in the woods, we just need to learn to remember we are visitors, and it is their home. A little consideration for wild animals and we can all live happily together and minimise the risk of any negative interaction 

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