A group of young pigs is called a drift or drove. A group that includes older pigs is called a sounder or team. A male pig is called a boar while a female is called a gilt if she hasn’t given birth, and a sow if she has given birth. Baby pigs are called piglets while they’re nursing, and shoats once they’ve weaned. All pigs may be called swine or hogs.
More About Sounders
A sounder of pigs usually includes up to six females and their offspring. As their piglets grow, they may remain part of the sounder, though males may go off on their own. Adult males may rejoin around the time of mating season. A single sounder may include several generations of pigs. Pigs are not generally territorial and, while older males may become aggressive toward younger males near the time of breeding season, they are generally peaceful animals.
Historians believe pigs were some of the first animals to be domesticated, though they were domesticated at different times in Europe (Turkey) and Asia (China) up to 10,000 years ago. Today’s domesticated pigs all come from wild boars on those continents. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto brought pigs to North America in 1539. Today, pigs are raised throughout the world for food, leather, fertilizer, glue, and medications. Pig valves are used during heart surgery to replace faulty aortic valves in humans. Pigs are even raised as pets in many countries.
What Do Pigs Eat
Pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. However, contrary to popular belief, they won’t eat everything in sight. Most pigs prefer vegetation, including acorns, foliage, berries, fruit, grass, seeds, and herbs. However, they will eat small insects, worms, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and other small creatures. In some cases, they will also eat the remains of dead animals. On farms, pigs may eat commercially sold food made up of corn, barley, and other ingredients.
Most pigs have between four and seven piglets at once, and they weigh about two and a half pounds at birth. Piglets grow quickly and exist mostly on their mother’s milk for the first three to five weeks of their lives. Weaning is typically slow, and a piglet may nurse on and off for up to 17 weeks. At birth, piglets can walk, see and hear, and by the second week of life, they play with their siblings.
One thing many people may not know about pigs is that they’re one of the most intelligent animals on earth. Depending on the scientist whom you ask, they rank third or fourth on the list of all animals behind apes, dolphins, and sometimes elephants. They learn quickly, exhibit problem-solving skills, work in collaboration with other pigs, and show true emotion.
Pigs and Their Senses
Pigs don’t necessarily have the clearest eyesight, but what they lack in vision, they make up for in their ability to hear and smell. Pigs can smell as well as dogs, a talent that comes in handy when rooting for food underground or sniffing out other individual pigs. They use scents, sounds, and visual signals to communicate, and they may smell another pig’s urine or facial glands to help identify it. Pigs can also use their voices to make up to 20 different sounds.
Are Pigs Dirty Animals
One big myth that many people believe about pigs is that they are dirty animals. In reality, they are quite clean, especially when they live in cooler climates. Pigs that live in warmer climates are unable to sweat when they get hot, so they roll around in water puddles and mud to get cool.