Zoology

Pig Behavior



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Understanding pig behavior is certainly a lot easier than understanding human behavior. There are a lot of myths about pigs, ranging from their supposed lack of intelligence (not true) to the belief that they are filthy creatures (also not true). Let's examine some of those myths.

Myth #1: Pigs are stupid creatures - How wrong. Pigs are incredibly intelligent animals. What other animal do you know that can figure out how to lift the lid on a feeder and eat until they are full, then lower the lid to keep dirt, water, and bugs out of their food? Most dogs can't do that. Granted, pigs have an anatomical advantage with a very mobile and sensitive nose, so they are built to lift lids, latches, fences, etc. Pigs also have an incredible sense of smell. In Europe they are used to find truffles, a delicacy that grows underground in forests. The pig can smell the truffle through the layers of leaves and dirts. The handler has to move fast, though, or the pig will eat their treasure.

Myth #2: Pigs are dirty - No more so than any other critter. In fact, they are cleaner than a lot of people I know. Pigs don't sweat like most animals, so they need a way to cool off. Mud holes are a wonderful way to do this. The mud absorbs the heat from the pig and transfers it to the atmosphere. If there is no mud hole near, they will use that incredibly versatile nose of theirs and root around in the dirt to scrape off the hot outer layer and reach the cooler dirt beneath. A thick layer of mud or cool dirt keep the pig cool and bugs away.

Additionally, pigs will designate one area of their enclosure as a 'toilet'. They will defecate and urinate in one area and sleep, play, and eat in the others. They do this naturally, without any type of crate training. I wish my dog was that smart.

Myth #3: Pigs will eat anything - Not necessarily. Like all animals, pigs are very curious creatures. However, since they don't have hands and fingers, they examine their environment with what they do have. They taste things to find out what they are. They root with their nose to examine boundaries and textures. While pigs are omnivores, they are not suicidal and don't usually eat things like metal and plastic.

Myth #4: Pigs only eat and sleep - Well, depends on who you ask. I grew up on a hog farm, and my personal experience is that when they aren't eating, sleeping, or playing, they are plotting escape attempts. Personally, I would have preferred it if they only slept and ate. Instead, they dig holes, chew on trees, play tag, and chase cats.

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