Pigs, the small pink mammals associated with farmyards, being smelly, dirty and greedy and, dare I mention it, bacon sandwiches.
But pigs are much more than the butt of jokes and breakfast food stuff. Pigs are super intelligent mammals who get a bit too much bad press and, frankly, are treated appallingly particularly in intense farming conditions.
So as an accolade to this wonderfully cute, smart trotter, here are some facts that you (maybe) never knew about them.
- There are many different breeds of pig from the wild boar of the Eastern European and Russian forests, to prized Gloucester Old Spots. Pigs run wild in the jungles of South East Asia and the islands of the Indian Ocean. In fact wild pigs can be found widespread across Europe and Asia, from Ireland to Japan, and from Siberia to the Indonesian Islands. In North & South America and Australia, domesticated pigs have become feral, and now live in the wild.
- Pigs do not have a fully functional sweat gland, so when they are rolling in mud, they're not being dirty, they are simply keeping cool; and they have the sense to realise that this mud acts as a sun screen as well.
- Vietnamese pigs make good companion pets, if given the correct care and attention. They can be relatively easy to live with, if a little attention seeking. The huge craze for owning a Vietnamese Potbellied pig, in the United States in the 1990's has become less popular, since people became wise to the fact that these pigs grow quite large and are territorial like any other animal. Famous owners include George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
- Truffle hunting pigs have been taught to snuffle out truffle's and are used by truffle hunters in Europe to find the prized fungi. Unfortunately having become attracted to the delicious smell, then taste of the expensive and rare mushrooms, pigs are sometimes being replaced by sniffer dogs, which tend not to eat their bounty.
- Pigs are known to be excellent football players, as in, they, like dogs, derive pleasure from playing with a ball and generally being social. This emphasizes their intelligence and need for social interaction.
- As already discussed, pigs have their reasons for rolling in mud, which is something God obviously didn't know about when in the bible he decreed pigs and swine to be unclean. As a result, certain religions do not eat pigs including Seventh Day Adventists.
- Jews and Muslims have their own reasons for not eating the meat of the pig. But the one I like best is that God or Allah made all animals for a reason, and it is sinful to be unkind to them, so eating any meat is forbidden.
- What other animal is so celebrated in works of art literature and popular culture?
Here are a few of the best:
Babe, Piglet from Winnie the Pooh and Wilbur in Charlotte's Web – the ultimate cute, loveable good guys
Napoleon in Animal Farm and Jodie from Amityville Horror – Scary and villainous
And, more famous today Peppa Pig, every toddlers favourite character.
Who else can you think of?