Domestic pigs have been bred by humans for centuries with the specific aim of consuming them for food, so they have always had people as their main predator.
However, when we think of pigs, it’s not just the domestic ones that fit the name. Eurasian wild boars are part of the same family, and are in fact the ancestors of today’s domestic animals. Some other relatives exist as well.
Let’s have a look at the predators the pigs have to fear.
List of Pig Predators
Of course, given that pigs are specifically bred for human consumption these days, humans are the number one predator of pigs. They are raised commercially as livestock and their meat as well as their hairs and leather are used commercially. One additional use for them is using pigs to hunt for truffles, using their enhanced sense of smell and innate foraging capabilities.
Pigs’ bristles (hairs) were used in paintbrushes and are now used for brushes, while of course, their meat is used for consumption.
There is evidence of the domestication of pigs as far back as ancient times both in Europe and in Asia. They were then brought to North America by early Spanish explorers.
In different countries, pig consumption is more popular than others, with Eastern Europe for example having pork as a Christmas meal, whereas Western Europe favours less fatty food in general. However, humans will continue to remain the main predator of pigs for the foreseeable future.
While most pig farmers will be inclined to worry about wild animals attacking their pigs, it is actually domestic (as well as wild) dogs which are the next biggest pug predators. Dogs have a natural instinct for attacking and preying on pigs, so especially stray dogs can be a real threat. They will most likely be looking for any source of food and pigs are easy to find because of their noise and smell, both of which dogs will pick up on quickly.
In North America, pigs are often preyed upon by coyotes. This is a convenience for coyotes, who will usually end up preying on smaller farm animals like chickens which are easier for them to tackle thanks to their size. Attacking a pig is much harder for a coyote, but assuming it’s asleep or ill, the quantity of food which would become available for it will be tempting.
The main deterrent from attacking adult pigs for coyotes, is that pigs are social animals and – if in a group – they will be very successful in ganging up on an intruding coyote and chasing it away.
However, coyotes will attack piglets as these are small and easy for them to overpower, as long as they are not being protected by the rest of the herd.
Foxes will naturally attack piglets due to their size and ease of capturing. Adult pigs are most likely too big and therefore too much hassle for them, when – just like coyotes – a fox on the prowl can get sufficient food from preying on chickens.
5. Bears and wolves
Wild pigs such as boars will be more easily attacked by wild animals they will encounter in their usual habitat. One of the biggest such threats, from the point of view of both size and danger, is the bear.
Wolves are also a dangerous predator for wild pigs.
For domestic pigs, bears are a serious danger as well, depending on where they are located (how close to their habitat). It is known that bears will travel quite a long way for pork once they know where to find it, and they are intelligent animals with a very good memory.
6. Water predators (alligators, crocodiles)
Piglets of wild boars have been known to be attacked and preyed upon by large water predators such as the alligator and crocodile. Even older boars would get caught by a crocodile, despite actually being quite fast and managing to evade a lot of land-based predators.
7. Eagles and large birds
Large birds of prey successfully attack and carry away piglets. These are a great source of nourishment and relatively easy for them to surprise and overpower.
Whilst wild boar will have tusks to help them defend themselves, and adult domestic and wild boars alike are maybe too big for a bird, piglets represent a great victim for them. Hawks and owls have been known to swoop in and take off with piglets, making them one of the biggest predators of wild pigs.
In different regions of the world, raccoons are proving a challenge for pig farmers as well. Just as any other nocturnal animal already listed (wolves, foxes), raccoons can evade the eye of the farmers are sneak through into pig pens in the night, especially able to prey upon piglets. However, guard dogs can be quite effective at scaring them off, even when they get through protective netting and fences.
9. Wild cats
Next pig predators are wild cats. A range of wild cats are a menace for pigs of all ages and especially piglets. Cougars, mountain lions and lynx have all been known to attack pig pens and prey on the animals.
Believe it or not, size is all that matters with pig predators. So, a tiny piglet can be carried away and eaten by rats, as the size difference will not be an issue in those cases.
Pigs are intelligent, social animals, and make excellent pets before they end up on the dinner table. However, their first enemy is humans because we specifically farm them to kill them in the end. Pig farming has evolved and become significantly more humane, yet there can be debate over how ethical it all is.
In the wild, pigs (or boars, rather) have quite different predators to fear: essentially, animals that are bigger than them once they’re adults, and any sort of predatory bird or big cat when they are piglets. Piglets are also fragile targets when domesticated, and pig farmers need to find ways to keep them safe from all sorts of predators.
I hope that this article on pig predators was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!