As with an introduced species, the introduction of feral animals or plants to non-native regions may disrupt ecosystems and has, in some cases, contributed to extinction of indigenous species. The removal of feral species is a major focus of island restoration.
A feral animal is one that has escaped from a domestic or captive status and is living more or less as a wild animal, or one that is descended from such animals. Other definitions include animals that have changed from being domesticated to being wild, natural, or untamed. Some common examples of animals with feral populations are horses, dogs, goats, cats, and pigs. Zoologists generally exclude from the feral category animals that were genuinely wild before they escaped from captivity: neither lions escaped from a zoo nor the sea eagles recently re-introduced into the UK are regarded as feral.
Domesticated plants that revert to wild are referred to as escaped, introduced, naturalized, or sometimes as feral crops. Individual plants are known as volunteers. Large numbers of escaped plants may become a noxious weed. The adaptive and ecological variables seen in plants that go wild closely resemble those of animals. Feral populations of crop plants, along with hybridization between crop plants and their wild relatives, brings a risk that genetically engineered characteristics such as pesticide resistance could be transferred to weed plants. The unintended presence of genetically modified crop plants or of the modified traits in other plants as a result of cross-breeding is known as "adventitious presence (AP)".
Certain familiar animals go feral easily and successfully, while others are much less inclined to wander and usually fail promptly outside domestication. Some species will detach readily from humans and pursue their own devices, but do not stray far or spread readily. Others depart and are gone, seeking out new territory or range to exploit and displaying active invasiveness. Whether they leave readily and venture far, the ultimate criterion for success is longevity. Persistence depends on their ability to establish themselves and reproduce reliably in the new environment. Neither the duration nor the intensity with which a species has been domesticated offers a useful correlation with its feral potential.
The cat returns readily to a feral state if it has not been socialized when young. These cats, especially if left to proliferate, are frequently considered to be pests in both rural and urban areas, and may be blamed for devastating the bird, reptile and mammal populations. A local population of feral cats living in an urban area and using a common food source is sometimes called a feral cat colony. As feral cats multiply quickly, it is difficult to control their populations. Animal shelters attempt to adopt out feral cats, especially kittens, but often are overwhelmed with sheer numbers and euthanasia is used. In rural areas, excessive numbers of feral cats are often shot. More recently, the "trap-neuter-return" method has been used in many locations as an alternative means of managing the feral cat population.
The goat is one of the oldest domesticated creatures, yet readily goes feral and does quite well on its own. Sheep are close contemporaries and cohorts of goats in the history of domestication, but the domestic sheep is quite vulnerable to predation and injury, and thus rarely seen in a feral state. However, in places where there are few predators, they get on well, for example in the case of the Soay sheep. Both goats and sheep were sometimes intentionally released and allowed to go feral on island waypoints frequented by mariners, to serve as a ready food source.
The dromedary camel, which has been domesticated for well over 3,000 years, will also readily go feral. A substantial population of feral dromedaries, descended from pack animals that escaped in the 19th and early 20th centuries, thrives in the Australian interior today.
Water buffalo run rampant in Western and Northern Australia. The Australian government encourages the hunting of feral water buffalo because of their large numbers.
Cattle have been domesticated since the neolithic era, but can do well enough on open range for months or even years with little or no supervision. Their ancestors, the aurochs, were quite fierce, on par with the modern Cape buffalo. Modern cattle, especially those raised on open range, are generally more docile, but when threatened can display aggression. Cattle, particularly those raised for beef, are often allowed to roam quite freely and have established long term independence in Australia, New Zealand and several Pacific Islands along with small populations of semi-feral animals roaming the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Such cattle are variously called mavericks, scrubbers or cleanskins. Most free roaming cattle, however untamed, are generally too valuable not to be eventually rounded up and recovered in closely settled regions.
Horses and donkeys, domesticated about 5000 BC, are feral in open grasslands worldwide. In Portugal, feral horses are called Sorraia; in Australia, they are called Brumbies; in the American west, they are called mustangs. Other isolated feral populations exist, including the Chincoteague Pony and the Banker horse. They are often referred to as "wild horses", but this is a misnomer. There are truly "wild" horses that have never been domesticated, most notably Przewalski's horse. While the horse was originally indigenous to North America, the wild ancestor died out at the end of the last Ice Age. In both Australia and the Americas, modern "wild" horses descended from domesticated horses brought by European explorers and settlers that escaped, spread, and thrived. Australia hosts a feral donkey population, as do the Virgin Islands and the American southwest.
The pig (hog) has established feral populations worldwide, most notably in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Pigs were introduced to the Melanesian and Polynesian regions by humans from several thousand to five hundred years ago, and to the Americas within the past 500 years. In Australia, domesticated pigs escaped in the 18th century, and now cover 40 percent of Australia with a population estimated at 30 million. While pigs were doubtlessly brought to New Zealand by the original Polynesian settlers, this population had become extinct by the time of European colonization, and all feral pigs in New Zealand today are descendants of European stock. Many European wild boar populations are also partially descended from escaped domestic pigs and are thus technically feral animals within the native range of the ancestral species.
Colonies of honey bees often escape into the wild from managed apiaries when they swarm; their behavior, however, is no different from their behavior "in captivity", until and unless they breed with other feral honey bees of a different genetic stock, which may lead them to become more docile or more aggressive (see Africanized bees).
Large colonies of feral parrots are present in various parts of the world, with rose-ringed parakeets, monk parakeets and red-masked parakeets (the latter of which became the subject of the documentary film, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill) being particularly successful outside of their native habitats and adapting well to suburban environments.
Wild cocks are derived from domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) who have returned to the wild. Like the red junglefowl (the closest wild relative of domestic chickens), wild cocks will take flight and roost in tall trees and bushes in order to avoid predators at night. Wild cocks typically form social groups composed of, a dominant cockerel, several hens, and subordinate cocks. Sometimes the dominant cockerel is designated by a fight between cocks.
A feral population can have a significant impact on an ecosystem by predation on vulnerable plants or animals, or by competition with indigenous species. Feral plants and animals constitute a significant share of invasive species, and can be a threat to endangered species. However, they may also replace species lost from an ecosystem on initial human arrival to an area, or increase the biodiversity of a human-altered area by being able to survive in it in ways local species cannot.
Animals of domestic origin sometimes can produce fertile hybrids with native, wild animals which leads to genetic pollution (not a clear term itself) in the naturally evolved wild gene pools, many times threatening rare species with extinction. Cases include the mallard duck, wild boar, the rock dove or pigeon, the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) (ancestor of all chickens), carp, and more recently salmon. Other examples of genetic swamping lie in the breeding history of dingoes. Dingoes are wild true dogs that will interbreed with dogs of other origins, thus leading to the proliferation of dingo hybrids and the possibility of the extinction of pure wild dingoes. Researches in Scotland have remarked on a similar phenomenon of the genetic mixing of feral domestic cats and their wild counterparts.
Feral animals compete with domestic livestock, and may degrade fences, water sources, and vegetation (by overgrazing or introducing seeds of invasive plants). Although hotly disputed, some cite as an example the competition between feral horses and cattle in the western United States. Another example is of goats competing with cattle in Australia, or goats that degrade trees and vegetation in environmentally-stressed regions of Africa. Accidental crossbreeding by feral animals may result in harm to breeding programs of pedigreed animals; their presence may also excite domestic animals and push them to escape. Feral populations can also pass on transmissible infections to domestic herds. Loss to farmers by aggressive feral dog population is common in India.
Many feral animals can sometimes be captured at little cost and thus constitute a significant resource. Throughout most of Polynesia and Melanesia feral pigs constitute the primary sources of animal protein. Prior to the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, American mustangs were routinely captured and sold for horsemeat. In Australia feral goats, pigs and dromedaries are harvested for the export for their meat trade. At certain times, animals were sometimes deliberately left to go feral, typically on islands, in order to be later recovered for profit or food use for travelers (particularly sailors) at the end of a few years.
Populations of feral animals present good sources for studies of population dynamics, and especially of ecology and behavior (ethology) in a wide state of species known mainly in a domestic state. Such observations can provide useful information for the stock breeders or other owners of the domesticated conspecifics (i.e. animals of the same species).
American mustangs have been protected since 1971 in part due to their romance and connection to the history of the American West. A similar situation is that of the Danube Delta horse from the Letea Forest in the Danube Delta. Romanian government is considering the protection of the feral horses and transforming them into a tourist attraction, after it first approved the killing of the entire population. Due to the intervention of numerous organizations and widespread popular disapproval of the Romanians the horses have been saved, but still have an uncertain fate as their legal status is unclear and local people continue to claim the right to use the horses in their own interest.
The cat (Felis catus) is a small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and often referred to as the domestic cat to distinguish it from wild members of the family. The cat is either a house cat, kept as a pet, or a feral cat, freely ranging and avoiding human contact.
A house cat is valued by humans for companionship and for its ability to hunt rodents. About 60 cat breeds are recognized by various cat registries.Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felid species, with a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws adapted to killing small prey. They are predators who are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. Compared to humans, they see better in the dark (they see in near total darkness) and have a better sense of smell, but poorer color vision. Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species. Cat communication includes the use of vocalizations including mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting as well as cat-specific body language. Cats also communicate by secreting and perceiving pheromones.
Female domestic cats can have kittens from spring to late autumn, with litter sizes ranging from two to five kittens.
Domestic cats can be bred and shown as registered pedigreed cats, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by spaying and neutering, as well as abandonment of pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, contributing to the extinction of entire bird species, and evoking population control.It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in Egypt, because cats in ancient Egypt were venerated since around 3100 BC.
However, the earliest indication for the taming of an African wildcat (F. lybica) was found in Cyprus, where a cat skeleton was excavated close by a human Neolithic grave dating to around 7500 BC. African wildcats were probably first domesticated in the Near East. The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) was tamed independently in China around 5500 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domestic cat populations of today.As of 2017, the domestic cat was the second-most popular pet in the U.S. by number of pets owned, after freshwater fish, with 95 million cats owned. As of 2017, it was ranked the third-most popular pet in the UK, after fish and dogs, with around 8 million being owned. The number of cats in the UK has nearly doubled since 1965, when the cat population was 4.1 million.Central government
A central government is the government that holds absolute supremacy over a unitary state. Its equivalent in a federation is the federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels authorized or delegated to it by its federated states, though the adjective 'central' is sometimes also used to describe it.The structure of central governments vary. Many countries have created autonomous regions by delegating powers from the central government to governments on subnational level, such as regional, state, provincial, local and other instances. Based on a broad definition of a basic political system, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and govern through common institutions with overlapping or shared powers as prescribed by a constitution or other law.
Common responsibilities of this level of government which are not granted to lower levels are maintaining national security and exercising international diplomacy, including the right to sign binding treaties. Basically, the central government has the power to make laws for the whole country, in contrast with local governments.
The difference between a central government and a federal government is that the autonomous status of self-governing regions exists by the sufferance of the central government and are often created through a process of devolution. As such they may be unilaterally revoked with a simple change in the law. An example of this was done in 1973 when the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 abolished the government of Northern Ireland which had been created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It is common for a federal government to be brought into being by agreement between a number of formally independent states and therefore its powers to affect the status of the balance of powers is significantly smaller (i.e. the United States). Thus federal governments are often established voluntarily from 'below' whereas devolution grants self-government from above.Donkey
The donkey or ass (Equus africanus asinus) is a domesticated member of the horse family, Equidae. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus. The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as draught or pack animals. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries.
A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny or jennet; a young donkey is a foal. Jack donkeys are often used to mate with female horses to produce mules; the biological "reciprocal" of a mule, from a stallion and jenny as its parents instead, is called a hinny.
Asses were first domesticated around 3000 BC, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia, and have spread around the world. They continue to fill important roles in many places today. While domesticated species are increasing in numbers, the African wild ass is an endangered species. As beasts of burden and companions, asses and donkeys have worked together with humans for millennia.Feral House
Feral House is a book publisher owned and operated by Adam Parfrey, founded in 1989 and based in Port Townsend, Washington.Feral Interactive
Feral Interactive is a video games publisher for macOS, Linux, and iOS platforms. It was founded in 1996 and is based in London, UK. Feral Interactive works with publishers such as Square Enix, 2K Games, Sega, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Codemasters. Feral develops and publishes ports of its partners' popular games including the Total War series, Batman: Arkham, Tomb Raider and XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
It sells the games it publishes via Steam, Mac App Store and its own Feral Store.From 1996 to 2013, Feral Interactive published games exclusively for Mac OS. In June 2014, Feral released its first game for Linux, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. In November 2016, Feral released its first game for iOS, ROME: Total War for iPad. In November 2017, Feral released its first iOS game for both iPhone and iPad, GRID Autosport. It continues to publish games for Mac, Linux, and iOS platforms.Feral cat
A feral cat is a freely ranging wild-living domestic cat (Felis catus) that avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Some feral cats may become more comfortable with people who regularly feed them, but even with long-term attempts at socialization they usually remain fearful.
Attempts to control feral cat populations are widespread. Some advocate trap-neuter-return programs to prevent the cats from continuing to breed, as well as feeding the cats, socializing and adopting out young kittens, and providing healthcare. Others advocate euthanasia. Feral cats often live outdoors in colonies: these are called managed colonies when they are provided with regular food and care by humans.Feral child
A feral child (also called wild child) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and so has had little or no experience of human care, behavior or human language. There are several confirmed cases and other speculative ones. Feral children may have experienced severe abuse or trauma before being abandoned or running away. They are sometimes the subjects of folklore and legends, typically portrayed as having been raised by animals.Feral horse
A feral horse is a free-roaming horse of domesticated stock. As such, a feral horse is not a wild animal in the sense of an animal without domesticated ancestors. However, some populations of feral horses are managed as wildlife, and these horses often are popularly called "wild" horses. Feral horses are descended from domestic horses that strayed, escaped, or were deliberately released into the wild and remained to survive and reproduce there. Away from humans, over time, these animals' patterns of behavior revert to behavior more closely resembling that of wild horses. Some horses that live in a feral state but may be occasionally handled or managed by humans, particularly if privately owned, are referred to as "semi-feral".
Feral horses live in groups called a band, herd, harem, or mob. Feral horse herds, like those of wild horses, are usually made up of small bands led by a dominant mare, containing additional mares, their foals, and immature horses of both sexes. There is usually one herd stallion, though occasionally a few less-dominant males may remain with the group. Horse "herds" in the wild are best described as groups of several small bands who share a common territory. Bands are usually on the small side, as few as three to five animals, but sometimes over a dozen. The makeup of bands shifts over time as young animals are driven out of the band they were born into and join other bands, or as young stallions challenge older males for dominance. However, in a given closed ecosystem (such as the isolated refuges in which most feral horses live today), to maintain genetic diversity, the minimum size for a sustainable free-roaming horse or burro population is 150–200 animals.Feral parakeets in Great Britain
Feral parakeets in Great Britain are feral parakeets that are an introduced species into Great Britain. The population consists of rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri), a non-migratory species of bird that is native to Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. The origins of these birds are subject to speculation, but they are generally thought to have bred from birds that escaped from captivity.
The British parakeet population is mostly concentrated in suburban areas of London and the Home Counties of South-East England, and for this reason the birds are sometimes known as "Kingston parakeets" or "Twickenham parakeets", after the London suburbs of Kingston upon Thames and Twickenham. The parakeets, which breed rapidly, have since spread beyond these areas, and flocks have been sighted in other parts of Britain. There is a flock of around 20 to 30 settled in Victoria Park, Glasgow. Other separate parakeet populations exist around other European cities.Feral pig
The feral pig (from Latin fera, "a wild beast") is a pig (Sus scrofa) living in the wild, but which has descended from escaped domesticated individuals in both the Old and New Worlds. Razorback and wild hog are American colloquialisms, loosely applied to any type of feral domestic pig, wild boar, or hybrid in North America; pure wild boar are sometimes called "Russian boar" or "Russian razorbacks". The term "razorback" has also appeared in Australia, to describe feral pigs there.Feral pigeon
Feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica), also called city doves, city pigeons, or street pigeons, are pigeons that are derived from the domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild rock dove, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. Rock (i.e., "wild"), domestic, and feral pigeons are all the same species and will readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs, have become adapted to urban life, and are abundant in towns and cities throughout much of the world. Due to their abilities to create large amounts of excrement and to carry disease, combined with crop and property damage, pigeons are largely considered a nuisance and an invasive species, with steps being taken in many municipalities to lower their numbers or completely eradicate them.Free-ranging dog
A free-ranging dog is a dog that is not confined to a yard or house. Free-ranging dogs include street dogs, village dogs, stray dogs, and feral dogs. The global dog population is estimated to be 900 million, of which 83% are unrestrained.Mark Henry (novelist)
Mark Henry (born 1968) is an American urban fantasy author, known for his Amanda Feral series. He has also written under the pen names of Amanda Feral and Daniel Marks.Mustang
Mustang is the free-roaming horse of the American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral horses. The original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, but many other breeds and types of horses contributed to the modern mustang, now resulting in varying phenotypes. Some free-roaming horses are relatively unchanged from the original Spanish stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations.
In 1971, the United States Congress recognized that "wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people." The free-roaming horse population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods by which the BLM manages their population numbers. The most common method of population management used is rounding up excess population and offering them to adoption by private individuals. There are inadequate numbers of adopters, so many once free-roaming horses now live in temporary and long-term holding areas with concerns that the animals may be sold for horse meat. Additional debate centers on the question of whether mustangs—and horses in general—are a native species or an introduced invasive species in the lands they occupy.Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha (along with the hare and the pika). Oryctolagus cuniculus includes the European rabbit species and its descendants, the world's 305 breeds of domestic rabbit. Sylvilagus includes 13 wild rabbit species, among them the 7 types of cottontail. The European rabbit, which has been introduced on every continent except Antarctica, is familiar throughout the world as a wild prey animal and as a domesticated form of livestock and pet. With its widespread effect on ecologies and cultures, the rabbit (or bunny) is, in many areas of the world, a part of daily life—as food, clothing, a companion, and as a source of artistic inspiration.Rock dove
The rock dove, rock pigeon, or common pigeon ( also ; Columba livia) is a member of the bird family Columbidae (doves and pigeons). In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon".
The domestic pigeon descended from this species. Escaped domestic pigeons have raised the populations of feral pigeons around the world.Wild rock doves are pale grey with two black bars on each wing, whereas domestic and feral pigeons vary in colour and pattern. Few differences are seen between males and females. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents care for the young for a time.Habitats include various open and semi-open environments. Cliffs and rock ledges are used for roosting and breeding in the wild. Originally found wild in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, pigeons have become established in cities around the world. The species is abundant, with an estimated population of 17 to 28 million feral and wild birds in Europe alone.Rose-ringed parakeet
The rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), also known as the ring-necked parakeet, is a medium-sized parrot in the genus Psittacula, of the family Psittacidae. It has disjunct native ranges in Africa and South Asia, and is now introduced into many other parts of the world where feral populations have established themselves and are bred for the exotic pet trade.
The rose-ringed parakeet is sexually dimorphic. The adult male sports a red and black neck ring, and the hen and immature birds of both sexes either show no neck rings, or display shadow-like pale to dark grey neck rings. Both sexes have a distinctive green colour in the wild, and captive bred ringnecks have multiple colour mutations including blue, violet and yellow. Rose-ringed parakeets measure on average 40 cm (16 in) in length, including the tail feathers, a large portion of their total length. Their average single-wing length is about 15 to 17.5 cm (5.9 to 6.9 in). In the wild, this is a noisy species with an unmistakable squawking call. Captive individuals can be taught to speak. They are a herbivorous and non-migratory species.
One of the few parrot species that have successfully adapted to living in disturbed habitats, it has withstood the onslaught of urbanisation and deforestation. As a popular pet species, escaped birds have colonised a number of cities around the world, including Northern and Western Europe. The species is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because its population appears to be increasing, but its popularity as a pet and unpopularity with farmers have reduced its numbers in some parts of its native range.Wild horse
The wild horse (Equus ferus) is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the modern domesticated horse (Equus ferus caballus) as well as the undomesticated tarpan (Equus ferus ferus, now extinct), and the endangered Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii). Przewalski's horse had reached the brink of extinction but was reintroduced successfully back into the wild. The tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, though it is a possible ancestor of the domestic horse; it roamed the steppes of Eurasia at the time of domestication. However, other subspecies of Equus ferus may have existed and could have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended. Since the extinction of the tarpan, attempts have been made to reconstruct its phenotype, resulting in horse breeds such as the Konik and Heck horse. However, the genetic makeup and foundation bloodstock of those breeds is substantially derived from domesticated horses, so these breeds possess domesticated traits.
The term "wild horse" is also used colloquially in reference to free-roaming herds of feral horses such as the mustang in the United States, the brumby in Australia, and many others. These feral horses are untamed members of the domestic horse subspecies (Equus ferus caballus), not to be confused with the truly "wild" horse subspecies extant into modern times.