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A feral animal or plant is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to its wild state.

Wyoming Mustang (feral)
courtesy of U.S. BLM
Wild Horse and Burro Program

Table of contents
1 Applicability
2 Variables
3 Tenur of Domestication
4 Examples
5 Conclusions
6 See Also
7 External Links



A feral
animal is one that has reverted from the domesticated state to a stable condition more or less resembling the wild.


plants that revert to wild are usually refered to as escaped, introduced, or naturalized. However, the adaptive and ecological variables seen in plants that go wild closely resemble those of animals.



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, or not, the ultimate criterion for success is longevity. Can they establish themselves and reproduce reliably in the new

Tenur of Domestication

Neither the duration nor the intensity with which a species has been domesticated offers a useful
correlation with its feral potential.



The difficulties of defining the nature of and predicting the properties of species that undergo domesticated, even after the fact, are themselves intractable. It appears that doing the same for feral development includes all the baggage of domestication, plus additional complications.

Some heavily dominated and selected species remain ready, willing and able to bolt for freedom, and strive impressively to retain it, while others that are only lightly domesticated and seem like good candidates for successful flight and invasion perform weakly.

Outstanding questions about the feral state include:

  1. What are the differences between a fully established feral population and it's domestic ancesters?
  2. Are feral populations of long standing comparable with the pre-domestication species, or with other never-domesticated animals?
  3. Do feral resources always offer good re-domestication prospects, i.e., do they retain the core goal traits of captivity?

See Also

External Links

Note: Links that treat feral animals as a mere pest issue are the norm.