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"Swine" redirects here. For the river, see Świna.
iPig and piglet
Image:Sow with piglet.jpg
Domestic sow with piglet
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Sus
Linnaeus, 1758

Sus barbatus
Sus bucculentus
Sus cebifrons
Sus celebensis
Sus domesticus
Sus heureni
Sus philippensis
Sus salvanius
Sus scrofa
Sus timoriensis
Sus verrucosus

Pigs are ungulates native to Eurasia collectively grouped under the genus Sus within the Suidae family. They have been domesticated and raised as livestock by some peoples for meat (called pork) as well as for leather. Their bristly hairs are also traditionally used for brushes. Wild pigs continue to fill these functions in certain parts of the world.


[edit] Description and behaviour

Pigs are omnivores, which means that they consume both plants and animals. Pigs like to scavenge and will eat any kind of food, including dead insects, worms, rotting carcasses, excreta (including their own), garbage, and other pigs. In the wild, they are foraging animals. Pigs that are allowed to forage may be watched by swineherds. Because of their foraging abilities and excellent sense of smell, they are used to find truffles in many European countries. They are also fattened to be eaten as ham and other types of meat, such as bacon.

Pigs are very intelligent, therefore, they are highly trainable animals, and some, such as the Asian pot-bellied pig, are kept as pets. A litter of piglets typically contains between 6 and 12 animals. Occasionally, in captivity, pigs may eat their own young.

Pigs do not have effective sweat glands [1], so pigs cool themselves using water or mud during hot weather. They also use mud as a form of sunscreen to protect their skin from sunburn. Mud also provides protection against flies and parasites.

A typical pig has a large head with a long snout which is strengthened by a special bone called the prenasal bone and by a disk of cartilage in the tip. The snout is used to dig into the soil to find food and is a very sensitive sense organ. Pigs have a full set of 44 teeth. The canine teeth, called tusks, grow continually and become very sharp by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.

[edit] Linguistics

Domestic pigs

[edit] Etymology

[edit] Pig

Modern English "pig" probably derives from Old English "*picg", which was found within compound words; its ultimate origin is unknown, but Dutch "big" (meaning "young pig") seems to be a cognate. Originally "pig" referred to young pigs only as the word for adults was "swine". Another Old English word for "pig" was "fearh", related to "farrow", and also to "furrow" from the Proto-Indo-European stem "*perk" meaning "dig, furrow" (compare Latin "porcus" meaning "pig") . This reflects a widespread Indo-European tendency to name animals from typical attributes or activities.

[edit] Hog

Modern English "hog", which correctly means "castrated male pig", seems to be derived from Old Norse hoggva = "to strike or cut", referring to the castration, but in modern English is often used as a byword for greed. The similar word "hogget" is used in some English dialects for "castrated male sheep".

[edit] Swine

"Swine" came via Anglo-Saxon from Common Germanic swīn-, from Indo-European sū- = "pig" (compare English "sow" (adult female pig), Latin sūs, Greek `υς or συς) plus the -īnos suffix.

[edit] Other pig-related words

  • The noise that a pig makes is usually represented as "oink" in the English language but in many different ways in other languages – for instance, chrum (Polish), hunk (Albanian), hulu (Mandarin Chinese), nøff (Norwegian), and so on. See oink for a fuller list.
  • A young pig which has just weaned is called a "shoat"
  • Early footballs were originally made from animal bladders, often from pigs. This was the origin of the term "pigskins".
  • The familiar piggybank got its name and shape as a result of a pun on the word pygg, a type of clay commonly used to produce household items in the 18th Century.
  • Pig iron is so named because the molten newly-smelted iron was once poured into molds resembling rows of suckling pigs.
  • A type of barrel called a "hog's head" appears often in the writings of Mark Twain.
  • A "hogshead" is a large volume of liquid. The term is also a colloquial reference to the gearbox for the "drive" wheels of automobiles, especially for large transport trucks, particularly those used in the Pulpwood industry of the Southeastern United States.

[edit] Cultural references to pigs

As an animal living closely with the people, pigs were and are frequently referenced in human culture.

[edit] Pigs in religion

Image:Piero di Cosimo 025.jpg
Painting of Saint Anthony with pig in background by Piero di Cosimo c. 1480
  • In ancient Egypt pigs were associated with Set, the rival to the sun god Horus. When Set fell into disfavor with the Egyptians swineherds were forbidden to enter temples.
  • In Hinduism the god Visnu took the form of a boar in order to save the earth from a demon who had dragged it to the bottom of the sea.
  • In ancient Greece, a sow was an appropriate sacrifice to Demeter and had been her favorite animal since she had been the Great Goddess of archaic times. Initiates at the Eleusinian Mysteries began by sacrificing a pig.
  • The pig is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. Believers in Chinese astrology associate each animal with certain personality traits. See: Pig (Zodiac).
  • The dietary laws of Judaism (Kashrut, adj. Kosher) and Islam (Halal) forbid the eating of flesh of swine or pork in any form, considering the pig to be an unclean animal (see taboo food and drink).
  • In Christianity pigs are associated with Saint Anthony, the patron saint of swineherds.

[edit] Environmental impacts

Image:Wild Pig KSC02pd0873.jpg
Feral pigs in Florida, United States

Domestic pigs which escaped from farms or were allowed to forage in the wild, and in some cases wild boars which were introduced as prey for hunting, have given rise to large populations of feral pigs in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and other areas where pigs are not native. Accidental or deliberate releases of pigs into countries or environments where they are an alien species have caused extensive environmental damage. Their omnivorous diet, aggressive behaviour and their feeding method of rooting in the ground all combine to severely damage ecosystems unused to pigs. Pigs will even eat small animals and destroy nests of ground nesting birds. [2] The Invasive Species Specialist Group lists feral pigs as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species and says about them [3] :

Feral pigs like other introduced mammals are major drivers of extinction and ecosystem change. They have been introduced into many parts of the world, and will damage crops and home gardens as well as potentially spreading disease. They uproot large areas of land, eliminating native vegetation and spreading weeds. This results in habitat alteration, a change in plant succession and composition and a decrease in native fauna dependent on the original habitat.

[edit] Health issues

Pigs harbour a range of parasites and diseases that can be easily transmitted to man. These include trichinosis, cysticercosis, and brucellosis. They also very commonly have large concentrations of parasitic ascarid worms in their guts. The presence of these diseases and parasites is one of the main reasons why pork meat should always be well cooked or cured before eating. Pigs can also be aggressive and pig induced injuries are relatively common in areas where pigs are reared of where they form part of the wild or feral fauna.

[edit] Guinness Book of Records

Pigs can be found in the Guinness Book of Records. The world record for the highest jump by a pig is 70 cm (27.5 in) and was achieved by Kotetsu, a pot-bellied pig on 22 August 2004 at the Mokumoku Tedsukuri Farm, Mie, Japan.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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