Ossabaw Island hogs are small pigs that have adapted well in a relatively short span of time to isolated island life. They are especially tolerant of heat, humidity, and seasonal scarcity of food. They are able to store an astounding amount of body fat, which gets them through the lean season. They are also highly tolerant of dietary salt, which is unusual for pigs. Most Ossabaw Island hogs are black, but some may be black and white, red, or tan.
Ossabaw Island hogs are uniquely American. They are a feral breed of pig native to Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia, near the city of Savannah. They are descended from domestic pigs brought over by explorers that either escaped or were set free intentionally on the island.
There is no precise record of when ancestors of Ossabaw Island hogs were first introduced to the island, but it happened at least 400 years ago.
There is controlled hunting of Ossabaw Island hogs on the island, but this breed of pig has not traditionally been raised as domestic stock.
Ossabaw Island hogs may no longer be removed from the island or cross state lines because of concern about certain diseases that some have tested positive for. Still, there is growing interest in this breed as a meat producer. The current status of Ossabaw Island hogs is listed as “critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, a non-profit organization working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. See them in the farmyard of the Maryland Wilderness at the Maryland Zoo.