41 Pig Facts: I Bet You Didn't Know About The Farm Yard Animal

Sridevi Tolety
Dec 08, 2022 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Apr 17, 2022
Edited by Erin Murton
Fact-checked by Lenin Kambam
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One of the interesting pig facts is that over half the world's pigs are found in China.

Did you know that pigs have episodic memory?

That means they can remember specific events from their life! This implies a high level of intelligence in this species.

Pigs can do much more than what we think. They can feel emotions, form connections (both social and emotional), and even be helpful, fun companions to humans. There is so much more than the popular perception of 'rolling in the dirt' that everyone has. Learn more about it below!

Taxonomy And Evolution

The earliest remains of pigs (found so far) are over 11,400 years old. The classification of pigs has changed greatly over the years, from being considered a subspecies under wild boars to being considered its own distinct species in 1777 by German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben.

They've also evolved and adapted to fit into their surroundings based on where they are. For example, a particular group of feral pigs in the Bahamas can swim proficiently.

The average lifespan of domestic pigs is 8-15 years.

They are omnivorous animals with even-toed hooves. Adult pigs can weigh anywhere from 110-770lbs (50-350kgs) and even more, depending on their diet and activity!

Male pigs are known as boars, and they are generally larger and heavier than female sows.

Archaeological finds have shown that wild boars were domesticated into pigs in the Tigris Basin.

Pigs are very intelligent animals.

The smallest breed of pig, known as the Göttingen Minipig, weighs 57lbs (26kgs) as an adult.

Pigs are social creatures- they exist in herds and form groups as soon as they're born.

Interestingly, domestic pigs are the ones with curly tails, whereas wild pigs have straight ones. This is often used for identification.

The scientific name for domestic pigs is ‘Sus scrofa,’ at times specified ‘Sus scrofa domesticus.’

Pigs use a variety of sounds like grunts and squeaks, along with gestures and body postures, to communicate. Mother pigs have been found to 'sing' to their babies while feeding/nursing.

Pig meat is an immensely popular food category, from sausages to steaks to cured cold cuts and bacon.

Pigs have the maximum number of names in Latin, and pork appears the most in ancient food recipes.

Pork sausages have been around in Germany, in cities like Nuremberg, since 1315AD. The Bratwurst sausage is a large part of German food culture today.

Over 1 billion of these animals are slaughtered as a food source every year.

Symbolism And Mythology

Due to the prevalence of pigs around the world and the various domestication processes and cultural associations with them, many religions have very definitive opinions on pigs. Since pig meat is such a common source of sustenance, it has cemented itself into various cultures in the form of art, literature, and media depictions as well.

Classical age Romans considered pork to be one of the finest kinds of meat, even depicting it in their art.

Islam and Judaism both forbid their communities from eating pork.

Buddhism symbolizes the pig as one of ‘the three poisons,’ specifically delusion.

In Ireland, the druids considered pigs to be sacred. Their priests were called 'swines' (which is another word for wild pigs)

In Hinduism, ‘Varaha’ is celebrated as the boar-headed avatar of Lord Vishnu.

In Egyptian mythology, female pigs, or sows, were considered sacred for their goddess Isis. They were also sacrificed for the god Osiris.

Most archaeological sites in Roman Italy have some depictions of pigs.

Pigs have been depicted in literature and art in various interpretations, both favorable and unfavorable.

For example, George Orwell’s popular work ‘Animal Farm’ uses them in a central role to depict the Soviet leaders.

Pigs often play a comedic role, like in P.G. Wodehouse's stories. One of the most popular, beloved media characters is 'Piglet' from 'Winnie the Pooh'.

There are records of 'war pigs' being used in Roman wars. Their high-pitched squeals were supposedly very efficient against war elephants, who were terrified by the sound.

Ecology

Pigs are highly adaptable animals, able to adjust to most conditions and survive on any number of food source. Did you know there is a reason most media shows depict pigs covered in mud? Or that they're much smarter than humans give them credit for.

Wallowing, i.e., coating themselves in mud, is a tactic pigs use to protect themselves from the elements, almost like sunscreen, since they do not have sufficient sweat glands.

Other than regulating body temperature, the mud that pigs coat themselves in also protects against parasites.

Although pigs are found naturally almost everywhere in the world, they are not present in North Africa, Antarctica, and parts of far-north Eurasia.

The largest breed of wild boar is the giant forest hog. These animals, which can grow up to 7ft (2m) long and 3.6ft tall (1m), are found in Africa.

To date, the largest recorded pig is called 'Big Norm of Hubbertville,' clocking in at 1600lbs (725kgs).

Wild pigs generally eat both animals and plants. Foraging for mostly roots, rodents, smaller reptiles, and fruits.

The major food source for domesticated pigs, on the other hand, are grains like corn, wheat, barley, etc. They are often also fed leftovers like fruit rinds and vegetable scraps.

Pigs form a social hierarchy based on internal factors and can even fight amongst each other for dominance, especially if they're around unfamiliar pigs. 

Pigs can recognize themselves in the mirror, indicating a rare self-awareness and intelligence level.

Pig squeals can be surprisingly loud, almost as much as 115dB, which is similar to a rock concert.

Threats And Health

It is argued that the biggest threat to pigs comes from humans due to exploration and the meat industry. Around 40% of all animal products consumed worldwide consist of pork products, indicating a thriving business.

This kind of demand requires intensive practices from farmers, who are constantly trying to maximize production and profit. Therefore, health and safety become a big issue both in terms of food safety and ensuring the high quality of meat.

The primary natural threats to pigs in the wild are big cats, hyenas, and sometimes pythons.

Wild pig species are also at risk from factors such as habitat destruction, hunting and disease transferred from feral domestic pigs.

Due to their high rates of population and general adaptability, most species of pigs are not at risk of extinction.

However, there are certain areas where the wild boar has been hunted to almost extinction. For example, the tiny pygmy hog, which lives in the foothills of the Himalayas, has only an estimated 250 adults left in the wild.

They have relatively small lungs for their size, making them very vulnerable to health conditions like fatal pneumonia and bronchitis.

Pigs have an exceptional olfactory sense, and this is best exemplified by 'truffle hogs,' which are a breed used to look for and extract truffles. These domestic pigs can often find truffles buried as far as 3ft(1m) underground, deep under layers of dirt and mud.

Unless specifically conditioned, pigs do not like being picked up because of evolutionary caution against predators.

For most people, pigs are only seen as dirty, messy animals that live in their own filth. But that could not be farther away from the truth.

In reality, they are intelligent, sentient beings who are very conscious of their environment. They have strong senses, have been seen to show empathy towards fellow pigs. Pigs are also one an important source of food for a large proportion of people on Earth, with thousands of pounds of pork being consumed daily across various cultures.

It's important to know these facts so we know where a good portion of our food is coming from, and so we can be more aware of the animals around us and how it impacts the environment and us.

FAQs

What are pigs afraid of?

Pigs are considered prey animals and thus has a natural sense of fear from predators. Generally, or depending on how the pigs have been raised, whether domesticated or in the natural environment, they can be scared of anything from natural predators to humans to even scarecrows.

Do pigs eat humans?

Yes, pigs would in fact eat humans, bones and all! However, domestic pigs are generally docile, and they won't attack or kill humans, so that's not something to be afraid of.

How fast can pigs run?

Pigs are faster than they look! Domestic pigs can run around 7-8 miles/hr, whereas wild boars and feral pigs can go up to 10 miles/hr. This is because running away is their primary defense mechanism against any kind of threat.

Where does a pig live?

Geographically speaking, pigs are found across the world. This is because they are very adaptable creatures that can be found in all sorts of climates, from savannas and grasslands to temperate rainforests, mountains and arid areas.

How many pigs are there in the world?

As of 2021, there were over 700 million pigs in the world, a number that is steadily increasing every year. This includes both wild and domestic pigs.

What animals do pigs eat?

Pigs will generally eat all kinds of smaller animals like insects, bugs, worms, rodents and larvae. If they're being farmed, usually a grain-based diet consisting of millets, corn and barley is fed to them.

What is a female pig called?

The most common terms for female pigs are sows or gilts.

Do pigs bite?

Pigs are certainly capable of biting, and humans on the other end of it can be infected by the bite as well. They have strong teeth and jaws that let them eat through almost anything.

Q: Do pigs eat tails?

Pigs will eat almost anything that is placed in front of them, including tails of all sorts.

Which animals are in the pig family?

The pig family is called 'suidae,' and it includes 18 different species, like warthogs, pygmy hogs, boars, and domesticated pigs.

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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Fact-checked by Lenin Kambam

Bachelor of Science specializing in Environmental Science

Lenin Kambam picture

Lenin KambamBachelor of Science specializing in Environmental Science

With a degree in Environmental Science from the D. M. College of Science, Lenin brings a unique blend of skills to the table. He has a solid background in sales and marketing, as well as extensive experience in the transcription industry spanning over a decade. Lenin is also committed to making a positive impact through his involvement in social and research projects.

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