For thousands of years humans have kept pigs, mostly for food, but they have been used for other reasons as well.
In ancient Egyptian times pigs were used by Farmers as a sort of living tractor. They would encourage them to trample all over their fields, snuffling around with their marvellous sensitive noses for juicy things to eat up. Their trotters would sink down into the earth to a perfect depth for the Farmer to sow seeds for next years’ crop.
Pigs are the cleanest beasts on the farm.
They never ever poo or wee inside their house and are always very careful to use their outside toilet.
So when people call them “dirty Pigs” that’s really not fair. They don’t deserve that reputation.
Perhaps people originally thought that Pigs were dirty because they are often covered in mud after wallowing in puddles.
We know a great deal better than that now.
Far from them being filthy, they are being brilliant.
They are doing something that we humans have learned from them and copy for ourselves. When the weather gets above about 20 degrees, pigs start to get really hot. Because they haven’t got many pores that allow their skin to breathe or glands to produce cooling drops sweat and because they can’t pant to cool down, they use mud as a cooling, sun cream and moisturiser to protect their skin from getting burned and dried out. If they haven’t got enough mud the farm workers will put sun lotion on them as a substitute.
Pigs are super clever creatures some researchers have done some investigations and found that they are more intelligent than dogs, primates and even very young children. They learn to do tricks and tasks really quickly especially if you offer them food treats as a reward.
Not surprisingly they enjoy playing for its own sake, just like humans do, they like toys and can learn simple computer games, such as Pacman.
They have incredible memories and can recognise and remember faces and objects for years and years.
They enjoy listening to music too.
Another myth about them is that they are lazy, but given the opportunity, a farmyard pig can run at up to 11 miles an hour and a wild pig can get up a speed of about 15 miles an hour.
We can learn a lot about how a pig is feeling from its tail.
if their tails are curly and jaunty, the pig is feeling very happy, like a piggy smile. But if their tails are lank and straight and dangly then the pig is worried or unhappy or poorly.
Their squeal can be as loud as 115 decibels which is louder than a supersonic aeroplane! They use their voices all the time to chat to one another. They have at least 20 sounds that they use to communicate.
Newborn piglets recognise their mum’s voice when they are as young as two weeks old, probably because their mothers ‘sing’ to them while they are suckling. Each piglet has its own special teat which it uses every single time they feed from mum, so they are always in the same order when they eat.
All through their lives they are very sociable animals and if they are able to they will snuggle up together to sleep tummy to tummy, snout to snout. They dream as well, just like we do.
Their genetic make up is very similar to humans.
Pigs love to eat lots of different things, but please don’t try to feed them by hand.
They won’t mean to nibble you, but they have 44 big strong teeth and very weak eyesight, so sometimes they make mistakes and can nibble fingers.
Oh and don’t feed them onions. They don’t care for them at all.