A-z - Animals

pig

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Pigs were one of the first animals to be domesticated .

As one of the first animals domesticated by humans, pigs can be found all over the world except Antarctica, North Africa and the northernmost part of Eurasia. These highly social and intelligent creatures are among the most numerous large mammals in the world and are biologically very similar to humans.

What is the scientific name of the pig? The scientific name of pig in China is Sus domesticus . Domestic pigs are a major food source for humans. About 60 million pigs are found on farms in the United States alone, and more than 1 billion pigs are slaughtered each year. Several pig breeds are classified as endangered at various levels, and many examples of such species can be found in zoos around the world.

Pig infographics

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Incredible Animals: 5 Facts About Pigs

  • Mud Animals : Pigs lack sufficient sweat glands to effectively regulate their body temperature, so they often wallow in mud to cool off during hot weather. The mud was also used as a sunscreen and as a way to protect the skin from parasites.
  • High IQ : Pigs are one of the smartest animals on earth. It can sense time, remember objects, use learned information to navigate its environment, and perform a range of interesting behaviors.
  • Unique among ungulates : Unlike most ungulate mammals, pigs don't have multi-chambered ruminant stomachs, so they can't live off grass and leaves alone. Also, unlike most ungulates, pigs build nests for their young.
  • It's on the tail : The easiest way to tell if an animal is domesticated or wild is by looking at its tail. Domestic pigs have curly tails while wild boars have straight tails.
  • Hundreds of breeds : In 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that there are more than 740 classifications or breeds of domestic pigs; 137 are listed as extinct and 130 are listed as endangered.
pig
A sow grazes with her litter of piglets.

©ccpixx Photography/Shutterstock.com

scientific name

Pigs are mammals belonging to the order Artiodactyla and the family Suidae, also known as the artiodactylae family. The family is further subdivided into another four to eight genera, of which domestic pigs and wild boars belong to the genus Sus. Species belonging to this genus are considered pigs, or pigs; eight species currently exist.



The scientific term for pig is Sus scrofa , a name that applies to wild boar, Eurasian wild boar, as well as domesticated mammals. But what is the scientific name of a pig that is not wild but domesticated?

The scientific name or classification of pig, used for domesticated pigs, sometimes extended to Sus scrofa domesticus .

pig
The scientific term for pig is Sus scrofa , a name that applies to wild boar, Eurasian wild boar, as well as domesticated mammals.

© iStock.com/Alex Raths

evolution

The domestic pig ( Sus scrofa domesticus ) originated from the Eurasian wild boar ( Sus scrofa ). There is evidence that domestication of this species occurred at multiple sites in Asia, Southeast Asia, India, Europe, and Africa. Domestication began about 9,000 years ago in eastern Türkiye. In 1539, Hernando de Soto brought domestic pigs to North America, eventually establishing the initial population of "wild boars." In the early 1930s, Eurasian wild boars were released into game reserves in Texas, some of which were crossbred with wild boars. Today, three species of wild boar may exist in Texas and North America: the wild boar, the hybrid of the wild boar and wild boar, and the wild boar. There are also hundreds of domestic pigs of all sizes and colors.

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pig
One billion pigs are slaughtered for food every year.

© iStock.com/banjongseal324

appearance and behavior

Pigs span many genera and species, so they vary slightly in appearance. Generally, however, they are known for their stout bodies, short legs, and protruding snouts. On average, they grow between 300 and 700 pounds. The largest pig ever, Big Norm of Hubbardsville, New York, weighed 1,600 pounds when he died in 2009. In 2012, a pig named Reggie set the weight record for the largest wild boar at the Iowa State Fair, weighing in at 1,335 pounds.

Most of them have sparse manes covering their skin. Some have a speckled pattern, while others are more evenly colored. They have four hoof-shaped toes on each foot, and their large heads have a total of 44 teeth. The faces of these animals are covered with scent glands, and they rub their faces against objects to spread scents and become territorial. Their noses are very sensitive and they dig deep into the soil in search of food.

Today, there are more than 500 domesticated pig breeds in the world. The most popular include the Yorkie, also known as the Great White, which can grow to 1,000 pounds. The Chester White is known for its all white appearance and medium floppy ears. Landrace is another all-white pig that is revered for its bacon.

These animals are highly social animals that gather in the wild in groups called callers. The groups consisted of two women and their children. Men tend to be more lonely. These animals communicate using a variety of sounds, including squeaks and grunts. They also use a variety of body postures to make their point. For example, they may bristle the hair on their back, grind their teeth, shake their head, or prick their ears.

Pigs are biologically very similar to humans. Therefore, they are often used in medical experiments. Their heart valves are sometimes transplanted into human hearts, saving lives.

Asian potbellied pig looks funny
Pigs are highly social animals that live in groups.

©Sinuswelle/Shutterstock.com

Habitat

The domestic pig is a descendant of the wild pig Sus scrofa and the Sulawesi warthog Sus celebensis . These two species of pig diverged from their most recent ancestors about 500,000 years ago. It is believed that the first pigs originated in China and the Middle East. Wild populations of modern domestic pigs can still be found in the forests of Africa, Asia and Europe.

The first pigs are believed to have been introduced to North America on Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1492; they first landed on the continent around 1500. They are believed to have been first domesticated about 40,000 years ago, making them one of the first animals domesticated by humans.

These animals thrive because they can survive in a variety of habitats. They are found in grasslands, rainforests, wetlands, shrublands, temperate forests, and savannas all over the world except Antarctica, North Africa, and northern Eurasia. They are also omnivores and will eat almost anything.

In the wild, their range varies in size. For example, the range of the pygmy pig is about 60 acres; the range of the Eurasian wild boar, on the other hand, can extend to over 7 square miles.

potbellied pig with baby
Pigs were first domesticated 40,000 years ago.

©Wendy M. Simmons/Shutterstock.com

physiological

Although pigs have sweat glands, they do not rely on perspiration to regulate their body temperature (a habit that puts them in the same category as elephants and rhinos). They prefer a cool dip in a mud pool, which keeps parasites out and also acts as sun protection.

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Pigs are thought to have some degree of resistance to snake venom due to an evolutionary mutation. They are one of only four mammals scientists have found to have this kind of mutated immunity. This puts pigs in a special category alongside hedgehogs, mongooses and honey badgers when it comes to resistance to snake venom. These mutations appear to be independent of each other.

Unlike ruminants, which have a multi-chambered stomach, pigs are monogastric. In other words, they have only a single-chambered stomach. Therefore, they are omnivores and eat whatever they like.

pig manure
A pig's digestive system is very similar to that of a human.

© iStock.com/Grigorev_Vladimir

diet

True omnivores, these animals live on plants and animals. In the wild, wild boars subsist mainly on roots, fruit, rodents and small reptiles. On the other hand, the feed for domesticated pigs usually consists of grains such as soybeans, wheat, corn and barley. They typically eat "sewage," which consists of fruit peels, vegetable peels, and other food scraps. Therefore, they are easy to keep around as they eat human leftovers and are not fussy at all.

These animals use their snouts to root in the soil for food. They are famous for being able to find truffles. Their rooting behavior helps the environment by removing dead animals, controlling insects, spreading seeds, and decomposing soil so new plants can grow. At the same time, this behavior can be highly destructive to the local environment.

Want to know more details about what pigs eat? Read our full guide to what pigs eat!

what do pigs eat
Pigs are omnivores and require a varied diet rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins.

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Predators and Threats

Wild boars are highly adaptable and can survive in a variety of ecosystems, but they also have natural enemies. Cubs may fall prey to small mammals such as coyotes, bobcats, and foxes. However, humans and mountain lions are the primary predators of North American wild boars. In some areas hunting is used to control populations, while others rely on fencing or trapping programs to reduce numbers. These methods help reduce the damage done by wild boar populations, but it's important to remember that these animals also play important roles in natural ecosystems.

pig
Pigs are omnivores — their diet includes plants and animals.

© Chumash Maxim/Shutterstock.com

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Non-pregnant sows, called sows, come into heat every 21 days throughout the year; each heat session lasts 8 to 36 hours. Males follow females and nudge them repeatedly to show interest. The female then lets the male taste and smell her urine. Males usually stay with a female for a few days before moving on to a new female. Gestation lasts three months, three weeks and three days. Sows build a nest for their young within 24 hours of birth. The piglets are called piglets and there is an average litter of 10 to 13 piglets. A sow can give birth to up to two piglets per year.

Newborn piglets or piglets start eating within an hour of birth. They are usually weaned after about two to three weeks. At birth, piglets weigh about 2.5 pounds and typically double in size in about a week.
Wild boars and wild boars live an average of 25 years in the wild. The average lifespan of domestic pigs is 6 to 10 years.

pig
Pigs are pregnant for more than three months, with a litter of 10-13 piglets.

©ccpixx Photography/Shutterstock.com

population

There are still large numbers of wild boars around the world, including in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. Exact estimates of wild boar populations are unknown. However, it is believed that there are approximately 2 billion domestic pigs on the planet at any one time. About 1 billion pigs are slaughtered each year, but intensive farming methods make it easy for farmers to meet demand.

piggy
One billion pigs are slaughtered for food every year.

© Simun Ascic/Shutterstock.com

Protect

Most pig breeds have very stable populations and are not considered endangered in any way. However, several species are listed as endangered by the IUCN. Wild boars are classified as Least Concern, which means they are not considered endangered. One species, the Sulawesi warthog, is listed as Near Threatened. Two species, the Palawan Bearded Pig and the Philippine Warthog, are listed as Vulnerable. One is the Javan warthog, which is listed as endangered, and the other is the Visayan warthog, which is listed as critically endangered.

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The greatest threat to pigs is human exploitation. As of 2017, pork and pork products derived from pigs accounted for more than 40% of all meat and poultry consumed globally. China alone processes more than 500 million pigs for food every year. The US processes approximately 64 million per year, Brazil approximately 40 million per year, and Germany approximately 27 million per year.

in the zoo

Pigs of all types can be found in zoos around the world. Domestic pigs are often found in petting enclosures at large zoos, where they are used to give people an up-close and personal experience. Various wild boars are also found in zoos around the world. For example, the San Diego Zoo has a herd of Visayan warthogs, the most endangered pig species on Earth. This is the first zoo outside the Philippines to keep them, and more than 60 animals have been born here since 2002. Like many famous zoos, the San Diego Zoo also has the Red River Pig and Hog Deer, or Babi Rusa Pig, which are native to the Philippines and Indonesia.

Many zoos have pigs on display.

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type of pig

  • Giant Forest Pig , Hylochoerus meinertzhageni – Found in Africa, the Giant Forest Pig can grow up to 6.9 feet long and 3.6 feet tall and is the largest wild boar species.
  • Dwarf Pig , Sus salvanius – Dwarf pigs are the smallest species, averaging 1.8 to 2.4 feet in length, 9.8 inches in height, and 14.5 to 21 pounds.
  • Red River Pig , Potamochoerus porcus – A taxon of the Red River pig also known as the bush pig, native to Africa, with reddish body hair. It spends a lot of time wading in the water, which is why it is called the river pig.
  • Babirusa , Babyrousa babyrussa – Also known as the hog deer, this species is native to Indonesia.
  • Visayan Warthog , Sus cebifrons – The Visayan warthog is native to the Philippines and is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

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Pigs are omnivores.

Pigs have four toes on each hoof, called biphaes. Each foot has two functional toes and two nonfunctional toes.

In general, pigs are not dangerous. Their main defense is their speed, so their first instinct when confronted is usually to run. However, when cornered, pigs may use their tusks to inflict damage on opponents. Their tusks are usually very sharp and pigs may stab their targets repeatedly when they feel threatened.

Because they are opportunistic omnivores that eat just about anything, pigs do eat human flesh. However, they're only likely to do so if they stumble across a dead body; they're not known to attack, kill, and then eat humans.

Unlike most hoofed mammals, pigs build nests for their young and do not have multi-chambered ruminant stomachs. Therefore, they cannot survive on leaves and grass alone.

No, pigs don't willingly eat their own poop.

Pigs belong to the animal kingdom.

Pigs belong to the class mammals.

Pigs belong to the phylum Chordate.

Pigs belong to the Suidae family.

Pigs belong to the artiodactyl order.

Pigs are covered in fur.

Pigs belong to the genus Suis.

Pigs live in forests and grasslands.

Pigs eat roots, seeds and leaves.

The average number of babies a pig has is 7.

The scientific name of the pig is Sus scrofa scrofa.

Pigs can live 8 to 15 years.

Pigs can travel as fast as 11 miles per hour.