Pigs

A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives. Pigs are omnivores and are highly social and intelligent animals.

Domestic Pig (Sus scrofa domesticus)

The domestic pig is most often treated as a subspecies of its wild ancestor, the wild boar. Archaeological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated from wild boars as early as 13,00012,700 BC in the Near East in the Tigris BasinTheir coats are coarse and bristly. Most domestic pigs have rather sparse hair covering on their skin, although woolly coated breeds, such as the Mangalitsa, are raised. Compared to other artiodactyles, their head is relatively long, pointed, and free of warts. Their head and body length ranges from 0.9 to 1.8 m (35 to 71 in) and they can weigh between 50 and 350 kg (110 and 770 lb). With around 1 billion individuals alive at any time, the domesticated pig is one of the most numerous large mammals on the planet.

Behaviour

Domestic pigs are intelligent and can be trained to perform numerous tasks and tricks. Recently, they have enjoyed a measure of popularity as house pets, particularly the dwarf breeds.

The behaviour of domestic pigs is more like that of dogs and humans, rather than cattle or sheep; in many ways, their behaviour appears to be intermediate between that of carnivores and the more highly evolved artiodactyls. Domestic pigs seek out the company of each other and often huddle to maintain physical contact, although they do not naturally form large herds. A behavioural character of domestic pigs which they share with carnivores is nest building and bed making (although modern production systems often prevent these).

Pigs root (digging with the nose or snout) out wallows or depressions and the females will build nests in which to give birth. First she digs a depression about the size of her body. She then collects twigs, grasses and leaves, and carries these in her mouth to the depression, building them into a mound. She digs in smaller, finer material to the centre of the mound using her feet. When the mound reaches the desired height, she places large branches, up to 2 metres in length, on the surface. She enters into the mound and roots around to create a depression within the gathered material. She then gives birth in a lying position, which again is different from other artiodactyls which usually give birth in a standing position.

Domestic piglets are highly precocious and within minutes, or sometimes seconds, will attempt to suckle. The piglets fight to develop a teat order as the anterior teats produce a greater quantity of milk. Once established, this teat order remains stable with each piglet tending to feed from a particular teat or group of teats.

Diet

Pigs are omnivores, which means that they consume both plants and animals. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves, grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. In confinement pigs are fed mostly corn and soybean meal with a mixture of vitamins and minerals added to the diet.

If conditions permit, domesticated pigs feed continuously for many hours and then sleep for many hours, in contrast to ruminants which tend to feed for a short time and then sleep for a short time. They can survive well by scavenging on the same types of foods that humans and dogs can live on.

As Pets

Asian pot-bellied pigs, a small type of domestic pig, have made popular house pets in the United States beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century. Domestic farmyard pigs have also been known to be kept indoors, but due to their large size and destructive tendencies, they typically need to be moved into an outdoor pen as they grow older. Most pigs have a fear of being picked up by the stomach, but will usually calm down once placed back on the floor. Pigs are rarely used as working animals. An important exception is the use of truffle pigs ordinary pigs trained to find truffles.

Miniature pigs, also called micro or teacup pigs, which are specifically bred to be small (from 2965 lbs) gained in popularity in late 2009 after several mainstream press articles claimed they were a popular pet to celebrities such as Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame. Despite claims that the pigs will remain small their whole lives, however, these pigs may eventually grow to a large size comparable to other pet pigs.

Glossary of terms

Since the domestic pig is a major domesticated animal, it is known by many names. A "boar" is a male domesticated pig. A castrated male pig is called a "barrow". A "sow" is a female pig. A sow may "farrow" (verb) a litter of "piglets", which is described as a "farrow" (noun). A female pig that has never been pregnant is called a "gilt". Anything resembling or anything characteristic of pigs is known as "porcine", and the breed may be either "swine", or "pig", whereas larger specimens are typically "hogs". In Old and Middle English, the "pig" was originally reserved for small, young swine.

Source: Wikipedia

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