Seasonal Food Habits of the European Wild Hog in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Information on seasonal food habits of the European wild hog (Sus serofa) was obtained by analyses of stomach contents of 128 animals collected in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 1971 to 1973. Hogs ate primarily plant material in all seasons. Grasses (Gramineae) were the most important food item in the spring and were also important to hogs in the summer, as were the fruits Gaylussacia spp., and Malus spp. Roots were the major food item in the fan and winter months, although the mast of Quercus spp. and Carya spp. was important when available. Animal matter consumed consisted primarily of invertebrates, salamanders and small mammals. Invertebrates were the most frequently occurring animal food. Total volume of animal matter was small. However, the apparent more than random searching for animal matter indicates the possible importance of these higher protein food sources in the diet of hogs. An evaluation of rooting sites supplemented the stomach analyses in determining some foods eaten. Such evaluations were highly subjective, however, and the delineation of specific food items was difficult. Outer roots tissue of Pinus spp. contributed to the diet of hogs, but this food source alone is apparently not adequate for both maintenance and reproduction. Increased rooting, which may result in extensive disturbance to various important wild flower habitats, may be associated with years of mast scarcity.

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