Difference Between Feral and Wild

Feral vs Wild

Feral and wild are statuses of organisms, especially animals, based on the environment that they live. Domestic animals live around humans according to a man-made schedule while feral and wild animals live without any direct influence on their lifestyle from humans. Both feral and wild organisms live in wild environments, but there are other differences between them.


Feral is a state of a group of organisms, where they currently live in wild after being domesticated previously. The state of feral applies mainly to animals but not usually on plants. Plants that are reverted into wild environments after keeping under domestic conditions are called as escaped, introduced, or naturalized. Feral animals live almost a same lifestyle as the wild animals do. It would be important to know that the feral status could be referred either on a species, on a particular group of a species, or on a particular individual animal. Cats and dogs are domesticated long ago, but there are many stray dogs and cats living on their own. These stray animals can also be referred as feral animals. Horses in the wilds of Australia (Brumby) and United States (Mustang) are some other examples for feral animals. However, the feral status should not be used when there is a group of animals live in the wild for a considerably long time although their ancestors were domesticated.

The ecology would be changed when there is a feral species in a balanced ecosystem. On the other hand, the presence of a feral species would contribute towards the balancing of the system. Any of those phenomena would take place based on the local situation of the ecosystem. The ex-situ conservation practices of the scientists are initiatives towards creating feral species.


The term wild could have many meanings, yet it is mostly referred to wild animals and the wilderness. Wild could be the status when a species is found in the natural environment. Additionally, the natural environment itself being called as wild. Usually, the first sense that comes to mind about the term wild is the forest or jungle, but its meaning should never be restricted to that. In fact, the term wild means all the places where an undomesticated species is found. A rock would be the wild for a lichen; savannah is the wild for a lion; Antarctic ice is the wild of penguins; water is wild for fishes, or the atmosphere could be the wild of birds. When animals and plants are found in their natural environment, they are referred with the adjective wild.

It would be interesting to state that bacteria and fungi species that live inside the human body (known as human flora) are also wild species. Humans do not have a direct influence on their lifestyle, yet they execute their natural lifestyle inside the human body. Introduced species into wild after being domesticated are not known as wild but as feral species. The conservation of natural species through in-situ measures drive towards keeping wild species in their natural environment.

What is the difference between Feral and Wild?

• Feral is a status attributed to species based whereas wild is a connotation to the natural environment of a species.

• Feral is always an adjective of animals, whereas wild is both an adjective as well as a name of a place.

• Feral species could either disturb or support the natural flow of energy in an ecosystem while wild species never disrupt the natural energy flow.

• Only animals are referred as feral, but any type of organism could be referred as wild.

• Feral animals have experienced the human handling, but wild animals never have.

• Wild animals are being conserved through in-situ conservation while feral animals may be promoted through ex-situ conservation.