Serbia’s Famous Cave Hermit Has a 400-Pound Boar For a Pet

Panta Petrović has been living in a cave in the canyon of Serbia’s Gradašnička river for over 16 years, away from modern civilization and in the company of both domestic and wild animals, including a 200-kilogram boar named Mara.

Serbia’s most famous cave dweller recently made international headlines after Agence France Press reported that even he had gotten a Covid-19 vaccine, even though he hardly interacts with other people. But in his home country, Panta has been making headlines for at least the last five years. Everyone in the area around Petrovac city, in south-eastern Serbia knows who he is, because of his unique lifestyle. He has been living as a hermit for the last 15 years, spending half the year in a wooden treehouse in the middle of nowhere, and the other half in a 25-meter-long cave hidden in the canyon of Gradašnička river. All because he wanted to go back to the basics and get away from modern civilization.

Photo: Tim Foster/Unsplash

70-year-old Panta Petrović spends his days taking care of his dozens of pets and enjoying the freedom and happiness that a life without material possessions offers. He wasn’t always like this though, in fact, he remembers a time when he cared a lot about making money and using his mastery of several useful crafts to fill his pockets. He had a lot of friends back then, but as his purse ran dry, most of them evaporated.

“I didn’t fit in that world anymore, and you can’t buy this kind of freedom for any money. You don’t get a bill for electricity, water … And you have all the most valuable things that nature gives you,” Panta said in a 2017 interview with the Anatolia News Agency.


He bathes in the river, warms himself by a fire he starts in a barrel, sleeps on the ground, and never complains about the lack of modern amenities. In fact, he prefers life this way. Having once lived in a regular home, he claims being a hermit is a million times better and adds that he would gladly consult anyone willing to follow in his footsteps. for free.

“When I had money, I had no health, and now, when I have no money, I have recovered and I live happily. When I had a lot of money I had a lot of friends, but after slowly running out of money, my friends were nowhere to be found, so now I am left with animals, but also a few real friends with whom I spend long winter nights in the cave,” Petrović said.


Panta Petrović shares his modest cave dwelling with dozens of pets, including chickens, ducks, goats, dogs, cats, and even a full-grown wild boar. She just stumbled into his cave one day, about six years ago, as a piglet, to hide from dogs or hunters that had most likely killed her mother, and never left. Panta took her in and raised her as a pet.

“Look how much Mara has grown!” Petrović told reporters. “She drinks two liters of milk every day, so I keep goats because of her. I tamed her, she does everything I want.”


The piglet that walked into his cave six years ago weighed only nine kilograms, but today she is over 200-kilograms-heavy. She doesn’t always get along with the rest of Panta’s pets, but he knows how to keep them separated to avoid trouble.

Living alone in a cave isn’t easy, and Panta Petrović admits that things aren’t always perfect. He sometimes misses human company, and wolves sometimes kill his beloved pets, as a wolf trail passes right above his cave, but they rarely bother him. The “wolves from the city”, are another matter entirely, though.


“It is difficult to fight wolves, but it is the most difficult to deal with those wolves that come from the city, those that walk on two legs. Various drug addicts come here, I have found syringes in my cave many times, they destroy everything, they break my plates, and they throw my stove into the river. They cause a lot of trouble for me,” Panta complained.

Even though he decided to run away from civilization many years ago to go live in a cave, Panta Petrović is very respected in the rural area around Petrovac. Some people visit him and bring him supplies and food for the animals, and many know him as a master craftsman who still puts his knowledge to good use in the interest of everyone.


During his years as a cave hermit, Petrović single-handedly built three bridges at his own expense, two across the Gradašnička river and one to a monastery on the way from Pirot to Knjaževac. All these bridges are popularly known as Panta’s Bridges.

After a “life without happiness”, about which doesn’t want to talk about, Panta Petrović went back to the basics, to life in the middle of nature, surrounded by animals. It’s not for everyone, but he claims it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

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