Pigs, as we know, are interesting, marvelous creatures. Often underestimated and unappreciated, the pig has some rather intriguing traits that are sadly not always common knowledge. There are plenty of fascinating things to learn about pigs that might surprise even the most seasoned pig owner or handler.
1. Pigs are faster than they appear. If you have ever had a pig, or herd of pigs, escape a fence, you know all too well what an experience that can be. Chasing down one or more pigs can be a lot of work, and require a good bit of stamina. While it is true that a human can run at speeds far faster than that of a pig, it does not always seem that way while you're in hot, sweaty, frustrated pursuit. A pig is actually capable of running at speeds up to 8.5 miles per hour, which pales in comparison to the 23mph speed at which a human being can run.
Photo: Mike and Kathie
2. Pigs are capable of producing intense sound. Sure, you've heard pigs moving about, grunting here and there, and once in a while a squeal may pierce the air. Some squeals are louder than others, but when it comes down to it, a pig is capable of producing a squeal that very well may make your hair stand on end. If you are familiar with the sound of a jet engine, that equates to a noise level of 112 decibels. A pig can top that, however, by producing squeals as loud as 115 decibels.
3. The intelligence of a pig is rather high as far as the rest of the animal kingdom is concerned. In fact, it has even been said that research has found pigs to have the intelligence level of a three-year old child. As far as comparisons with other animals are concerned, pigs hold the number four position on the smart chart, being topped only by animals such as elephants, dolphins, and chimpanzees. Pigs are also able to recognize their own names, if given one, by the age of three weeks.
Photo: Modern Farmer
4. Pigs are opportunistic eaters. If they have access to it, they will eat it. If they can find it, they will eat it. If it crawls, wanders, or slithers into their pen, they will probably eat that, too. Not much is off limits as far as the pig palate is concerned.
5. You may not be able to smell it, but rest assured your pigs can! The snout of a pig was designed with purpose in mind; in addition to an excellent sense of smell, the pig snout has a prenasal bone and a large, round disk of cartilage at the tip which is intended to make it strong enough to root through the ground while still remaining flexible. This notable nose is so exceptional that it is actually used in European countries to find fungus that grows up to three feet underground, known as truffles.
Photo: Daphne Caruana Galizia
Next time someone tries to tell you pigs are boring animals, set the record straight! Not only are pigs a worthy animal to known and understand, but they are a complex creature much like us. Winston S. Churchill once said, "I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." The more we learn about pigs, the more it seems as though he was right.