Wild pigs are normally most active in the early morning and late afternoon, though they become nocturnal in disturbed areas, where activity usually commences shortly before sunset and continues throughout the night. A total of four to eight hours are spent foraging or travelling to feeding areas. Feeding is generally a social activity (even solitary males may join feeding groups). Radio telemetry has revealed that family pig groups range over an area of 100 to 2,500 hectares, depending on season and food availability. At night, pigs can travel two to 15 km. Over six months, these animals can cover an area of around 10,000 hectares (35). Pigs have a diurnal pattern of activity which peaks at dawn and dusk. Foraging activities during this time comprises of grazing and rooting behaviours.
David Wood-Gush and Alex Stolba, scientists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, observed domestic pigs in a semi-natural enclosure over several years and concluded:
“Pigs are generally exploratory animals with an appreciable proportion of their time devoted to... examining the distant and immediate environment and in collecting, carrying, manipulating food items... They used their rooting pads to flatten and push items; the snout for grubbing out thick roots. Morsels on the bark and wood were licked, while old tussocks of grass were overturned so that their roots could be eaten. Young grass on the other hand was carefully grazed. In boggy areas they dug more deeply to get at the roots of sedge grasses and these together with the roots of the trees appeared to be prized” (36).
The adult pigs in this study had been kept in factory farms and yet still they displayed a wide repertoire of behaviours when provided with the opportunity. In fact, given half the chance, pigs will live feral as wild boar. Whilst domesticated pigs have developed longer bodies, shorter legs and large, floppy ears (because pigs in captivity do not need to be so alert), domesticated pigs have in fact retained many of the behaviours and instincts of their wild relatives.