Most of us know firsthand how intelligent and loving dogs and cats are, since we interact with them often. Not everyone has had the chance to hang out with pigs, and may not realize how similar they are to the animals we share our homes and hearts with. Here at Ahimsa Acres, pigs are among our best friends! We have 7 pigs living at our sanctuary, and every day we get to witness how interesting, clever, and affectionate they are.
Here are seven facts that may change your perception of pigs!
1. Pigs are Good Problem Solvers
Pigs are very clever and have the ability to solve complex problems. In fact, pigs are accepted as the second-smartest animal after humans; they are as smart as chimpanzees, or 3-year old children. Did you know a pig recognizes and responds to hearing her name?
Pigs have shown time and time again that they can navigate mazes and solve puzzles. This proves their ability to distinguish and categorize objects, for example, on the basis of color and shape. Pigs also have good memories, and solve problems using their knowledge of what happened in the past. Pigs have learned to play video games using joysticks and to set the temperature with a thermostat!
2. Pigs are Talkative
Just like us human animals, pigs use their voices to communicate. As far as we know, they can make at least 20 distinct sounds. Each of these sounds is tied to situation and emotion. For example, pigs make short grunts when they feel excited. Other sounds in their repertoire include long grunting, squealing, screaming, and barking.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “when pigs fly,” but what about when they sing? Well male pigs, known as boars, already do! Boars sing a “courting song” to impress the ladies when they are ready to mate.
3. Pigs are Social
Pigs are very social creatures and prefer to live in groups. A group of pigs, called a “drift,” “herd,” or “sounder,” is usually comprised of about 8 members. These groups are matriarchal, meaning they are centered around the mothers.
A group is normally made up of a few mothers and each of their babies. Pig mommas keep close watch over their young, taking turns watching the piglets of the sounder while other moms search for food. Male pigs, on the other hand, prefer to be independent and don’t normally identify with groups. (Except for our Apollo -- he absolutely LOVES his "babies," Paulie, Mickey, and Adrian!)
Pigs are also social with other animals, too, including people. They remember individuals and, like many cats and dogs, show preference for those who they are already acquainted with.
4. Pigs Like to Keep Busy
Like most people and other animals, pigs like to keep busy with activities. They get unhappy and sometimes lash out when bored (hey, me too). Pigs generally spend up to 10 hours each day foraging for food. They enjoy exploring their environment using both their color vision and keen sense of smell. When they cannot freely roam and forage, pigs like to play with a variety of toys, dig in straw, and chew corn cobs.
Considering how smart and playful pigs are, it is no surprise that they enjoy having lots to do!
5. Pigs are Tidy
Many people think of pigs as dirty animals, but this is not at all true! Pigs are very clean animals and some people keep their piggy friends in the house just like cats or dogs. At as young as a few hours old, pigs know to separate where they go to the bathroom from their sleeping and eating spots.
So why do they like to roll in the mud? Unlike us, pigs do not sweat, so rolling in the mud helps them cool off. Think of the last time you stepped out of the shower and felt cold; this is the same cooling effect that pigs benefit from as the mud dries. The mud also protects their skin from burns when they are in the sun and from pesky flies.
6. Pigs Have Amazing Noses
Pigs have pretty amazing noses that enable them to do many things. The way a pig uses her nose is similar to the way we use our hands.
Pigs are very skilled at digging in the dirt with their noses in search of roots and other edible goodies. This is appropriately called “rooting.” It is enabled by the large flexible disc of cartilage that makes up the tip of a pig’s nose.
Pigs’ noses are not only physically strong and agile, but their sense of smell is also extremely well developed. This is what enables them to find truffles buried deep underground.
7. Pigs are Compassionate and Affectionate
Pigs love to be affectionate. They often rub noses with each other, they cuddle with other animals like cows and dogs, and they love to be petted. If you've visited the sanctuary, you know they go CRAZY for belly rubs!
As part of their social and intelligent nature, pigs also respond to what others are feeling. If they see someone sad or in pain, they show that they too are upset. This is not limited to other pigs; they have compassion for other animals, including us homo sapiens. Let’s reciprocate and show these amazing animals the same level of compassion!
Interested in keeping pigs off your plate? Check out our recipes section for meatless meal inspiration.
Emersyn D. is a designer, musician, and vegan living in Philadelphia with her partner and their two dogs, Legs and Porkroll. In her free time she enjoys cooking, bodybuilding, and dreaming up her future tiny house. She also loves dad jokes. You can reach Emersyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.