It’s fairly reasonable to say that pigs and humans have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, pigs are considered generally friendly animals, and humans almost seem to gravitate toward them emotionally.
On the contrary, pigs supply an extraordinary amount of usable materials for humans and have done so for thousands of years. Whether farmed for meat or other material or kept as farm and domestic companions, pigs and humans seem to have the capacity for a deep relationship — practical or spiritual.
So it may be worth learning just a little about our porcine friends. They are indeed one of nature’s most remarkable achievements, as we’ll see on this list of 37 interesting facts about pigs.
37 Interesting Facts About Pigs
When it comes to facts about animals, pigs truly deserve their own list. More than simply being fascinating and unusual, these facts also seem in many ways familiar from a human perspective.
So, here are some weird, wonderful, and just plain joyful facts about human’s other best friend, the pig.
1. A Pig by Any Other Name
The pig is referred to by several names. You will hear them called swine and hogs interchangeably. Female pigs are called sows. Males are sometimes called boars, although these days, that also is generally used to talk about wild pigs. Young pigs are called piglets, and young pigs already weaned off their mother’s mils are called shoats.
2. A Pig Is Good Luck in China
Aside from being a good omen for fertility, pigs represent honesty, good fortune, and happiness in Chinese zodiac culture. The last year of the Pig was 2019. The next will be 2031. In the Chinese zodiac, each animal year is also associated with an element. In 2031, the element will be metal, specifically Gold.
3. Pork Audio Power
Pigs can squeal very loudly. One test measured a squeal at 115 dB, which is louder than a commercial passenger jet. Yes, they could cause you to go deaf.
4. Common Descendent
Whether wild or domestic, all pigs seem to be descended from an animal known as the Eurasian Wild Boar. Today there are many variations of pigs, some large and some small.
5. Dental Problems
No, pigs don’t have problems with their teeth. But teeth are the only things we know about (so far), that pigs cannot digest. This is why they are able to eat almost anything, including you.
6. Fertility Symbols
In China, pigs have been considered fertility symbols to some degree. You may see statues or a shrine featuring a pig in the bedroom of a Chinese couple trying to conceive. Why you would be in a bedroom in China is your business.
7. Mama Pig’s Orders
It is known that piglets can recognize their mother’s calls. But did you know that when pigs suckle, they will do so in a specific order when it comes to their mum’s teats? Every piglet has an assigned teat from which to feed, and they will not feed from any other.
8. Memory Bank
Pigs are like elephants in at least one significant way. They remember things. Pigs have been known to remember things for years, perhaps locating an object hidden long ago, or even recognizing other pigs or people.
9. March 1 Is National Pig Day (in the US)
Around the country, special celebrations are staged at schools, zoos, and other establishments. Some towns host parades, parties, and even festivals.
10. Pacy Pig
Contrary to popular opinion, pigs are not slow or clumsy. A pig in good health can do a decent clip at 11 mph. For perspective: A seriously good human athlete can possibly run a four-minute mile. That’s 15 mph. A pig could do that mile in 7 minutes, at its top speed. That’s still better than many amateur athletes.
11. Pig Latin
Okay, maybe it’s not Latin, but pigs do have a language that they use to communicate with each other. It’s usually heard as grunts of various tones and intensities. These grunts can also vary by individual pig personality. You can learn to tell a pig’s mood by its grunts.
12. Pig Population
An educated guess says that there are around 780 million pigs on the planet today. They share at least one interesting fact with ducks. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
13. Pigs Are Omnivores
Pigs can eat plants or vegetables as well as other animals like small reptiles and other mammals. This is why an unchecked population can wreak havoc on a local ecosystem. Not only will they destroy fruits and edible trees, but they will also likely decimate the local animal populations as well. In that way, they have the same impact on the environment as cats.
14. Pigs Can Be Sizeable
The largest (as in heaviest) pig on record was Big Bill. In 1933, he stepped on the scale at a hefty 2,552 lbs. This is an extraordinary outlier, as most average large pigs tip that scale at between 300 lbs and 700 lbs. For perspective, a competitive sumo wrestler weighs between 300 lbs and 400 lbs and eats around 7,000 calories per day to maintain that weight.
15. Pigs Can Go Wild
Odd as it may seem, even the most friendly and docile domestic pig has the capacity to take on more instinctual aspects of their personality. If, for example, a domestic pig suddenly found itself in the wild and survived, it will take on habits more associated with a wild boar. More than that, its offspring will seem to develop a look more consistent with that of wild pigs.
16. Pigs Don’t Hunt
Despite being enthusiastic eaters of other animals, pigs do not actually hunt. If you happen to be an edible smaller animal, simply think yourself unlucky, should you happen across a hungry pig.
17. Pigs Like ‘Spa Treatments’
If you observe pigs going about their business, you may notice that they do enjoy mud baths, rubs, and massages. They will rub up against trees and other objects in the yard, getting a good scratch here and there. They also love playing with toys, and some even seem to enjoy listening to music.
18. Pigs Live Longer Than Dogs
Most domestic dogs live between 10 and 15 years on average. Domestic pigs can live up to 20 years. More than that, they are top guard pigs and make for great companions.
19. Pigs Love Cuddles
It so happens that pigs are a lot like dogs when it comes to being social as well. If you have a pig as a pet, they will enjoy cuddling up next to you as much as your German Shepherd will.
20. Pig Snouts Are Complicated
A pig’s snout has an extraordinary amount of nerve receptors. Scientists estimate that pigs can smell up to 2,000 times better than humans. No wonder they use it to root out food. The best food. Only the very best food.
21. Pigs Prefer Cool Weather
Odd as it may seem, pigs prefer to be colder than hotter. Part of the reason is that they have no sweat glands, so tend to feel very uncomfortable when it’s hot. Solution: They get in the mud to stay cool — another possible reason they developed a reputation for being dirty.
22. Pigs Will Eat Almost Anything
One thing you can be assured of is that pigs hate to let a good meal go to waste. That includes you, should you happen to somehow be in such a situation. Pigs have been known to eat humans, including bones and body parts as well. Waste not, want not.
23. Sea Pigs
In the Cayman Islands, there is a famous attraction involving ocean-swimming pigs. A significant group of pigs makes a habit of hitting the waves and swimming. They have the run of the island and attract tons of tourists who provide snacky treats. It’s not entirely clear how these pigs came to love the ocean so much.
24. Smart Chops
Although dogs like German Shepherds have been the top choices for pets and companions (disputed by cats), pigs are remarkably competitive when it comes to intelligence. It is scientifically proven that they are more intelligent than dogs in general, and some studies have proven them more intelligent than some primates. And that’s besides politicians.
25. The Dream Team
Pigs do in fact dream. They are so similar to humans in this way that scientists often use pigs as a baseline reference for several studies that would impact humans. Porcine stem cells are sometimes used in disease research. One wonders if the pig’s ability to dream also makes them interesting in psychological studies.
26. The Legend of the Tamworth Two
There is an incredible true story surrounding a pair of pigs from Wiltshire in England. Two sibling pigs from Tamworth were destined for the slaughterhouse but escaped and went on the run. They managed to evade authorities for a week before being captured once more. Their saga had been carried in the news, however, and due to public protest, they were saved and sent to a sanctuary.
27. The Myth of Dirt
For some reason, pigs have a reputation for being filthy animals, but the truth is a lot more interesting. When given proper living conditions, they like to be clean, and seldom will mess where they prefer to live.
28. What’s Your Name, Pig?
We know that pigs are intelligent. Observational studies show that they can respond to their names from as early as three weeks old. They also start to learn tricks and habits way earlier than dogs.
29. Wild Pigs Can Be a Problem
In recent times, the wild pig has become a major pest in the US. Populations have threatened to expand out of control, and the masses of pigs have proven destructive to the environment and other species. Has the invasion begun?
30. Pigs Build Nests
Sows who are about to give birth look around for sticks and leaves, and start to gather them. They actually build a nest in which to give birth and spend the first few days of their offspring’s lives.
Nests don’t have to be limited to natural materials, either. Some pigs have used plastic tubing and other materials found lying around a farm. Piglets will consider it a home base for several weeks after birth.
31. Pigs Are Curious
It seems that pigs tend to explore their environment like curious explorers. It is thought that they become somewhat bored with routine. They also exhibit behavior that suggests that they are wary of loud noises and large dogs that may be loud barkers. Plus, they don’t like yelling, and will likely just run away if there are loud noises in the area.1.
32. Piglets Are Tiny!
At birth, the average piglet weighs around 2.5 lbs. Within a week, they will weigh 5 lbs. Pig litters number around 10 at a time, and a sow can give birth twice per year. That is to say, provided the environment and sow are healthy and strong. Sows carry their pregnancy for three months.
33. Pigs, Pigs, Pigs
The largest litter ever born to a pig numbered 37. The pig, simply known as Sow 570, achieved the record in Melbourne. 33 of the 37 survived, which is remarkable.
34. Piglets Are Born Ready
Most young mammals need a while to learn to walk and do other essential things. Piglets are born with open eyes, and can already walk and run when they are born.
35. Mother Pigs ‘Sing’
Observers say that they have heard mother pigs actually ‘sing’ to their piglets while they are feeding. If this is accurate, it means that pigs are 300% more adorable than we ever imagined.
36. The Smallest Pig
The world’s smallest wild pig species is the pygmy hog, which was saved from extinction. It is still considered endangered and quite rare to encounter in the wild. They are roughly two feet long and weigh about 20 lbs. That’s about the size of a large cat.
37. Pop Culture Porkers
Let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the most famous pigs in pop culture.
- Babe – The best sheepherder. Ever.
- ManBearPig – South Park’s (and Al Gore’s) semi-mythical terror-inducing nemesis. For cereal.
- Miss Piggy – a famous muppet.
- Piglet – lives in the Hundred Acre Wood.
- Porky Pig – Warner Bros’ most famous cartoon host known for the closing remark, “That’s all, folks.”