pig: Wikis


File:Sow with
A domestic sow and her piglet.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Subfamily: Suinae
Genus: Sus
Linnaeus, 1758

Sus barbatus
Sus bucculentus
Sus cebifrons
Sus celebensis
Sus domestica
Sus falconeri
Sus hysudricus
Sus oliveri
Sus philippensis
Sus scrofa
Sus strozzi
Sus verrucosus

Pigs are a genus of even-toed ungulates within the family Suidae. The name hog most commonly refers to the domestic pig (Sus domestica) in everyday parlance, but technically encompasses several distinct species, including the Wild Boar. Swine is a non-declensive noun generally used to describe a herd of pigs rather than an individual, however it may often be implied in a pejorative manner to any living being expressing pig-like behaviour.

With around 2 billion on the planet, domestic pigs are also by far the most numerous pig species.[1][2] Pigs are omnivores, and despite their reputation for gluttony, they are generally social and intelligent animals.


Description and behavior

A pig has a snout for a nose, small eyes, and a small tail, which may be curly, kinked, or straight. It has a thick body, short legs, and coarse hair. There are four toes on each foot, with the two large middle toes used for walking.[3]

Pigs are omnivores, which means that they consume both plants and animals. Pigs will scavenge and have been known to eat any kind of food, including dead insects, worms, tree bark, rotting carcasses, garbage, and even other pigs. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves, grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. Occasionally while in captivity, pigs may eat their own young if they become severely stressed. A typical pig has a large head with a long snout which is strengthened by a special prenasal bone and by a disk of cartilage in the tip.[4] 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 continuously and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.[4]

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. Domesticated pigs are commonly raised as livestock by farmers for meat (called pork), as well as for leather. Their bristly hairs are also used for brushes. Some breeds of pigs, such as the Asian pot-bellied pig, are kept as pets.

Breeding occurs throughout the year in the tropics, but births peak around rainy seasons. A female pig can become pregnant at around 8-18 months of age. She will then go into estrus every 21 days if not bred. Male pigs become sexually active at 8-10 months of age.[4] A litter of piglets typically contains between 6 and 12 piglets.[5] After the young are weaned, two or more families may come together until the next mating season.

Pigs do not have functional sweat glands,[6] 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.[5]


The Pygmy Hog is now in the monotypic genus Porcula again[15]

Domestic pigs

Pigs have been domesticated since ancient times in the Old World and are known for their exceptional intelligence. Domestic Pigs are found across Europe and the Middle East and extend into Asia as far as Indonesia and Japan. They were brought to southeastern North America from Europe by De Soto and other early Spanish explorers. Pigs are particularly valued in China and on certain oceanic islands, where their self-sufficiency allows them to be turned loose, although the practice is not without its drawbacks (see below).

The domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) is usually given the scientific name Sus scrofa, although some authors call it S. domesticus, reserving S. scrofa for the wild boar. It was domesticated approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Their coats are coarse and bristly. They are born brownish colored and tend to turn more grayish colored with age. The upper canines form sharp distinctive tusks that curve outward and upward. Compared to other artiodactyles, their head is relatively long, pointed, and free of warts. Their head and body length ranges from 900-1,800 mm and can weigh 50-350 kg.

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

Cultural references to pigs

Pigs are frequently referenced in culture and are a popular topic for idioms and famous quotes.

Pigs in religion

c. 1480]]
  • In Nordic Mythology, Gullinbursti ("Gold-Bristle" or "Gold-Mane") was Freyr's golden boar, created by the dwarves Brokk and Sindri as part of a challenge. His shining fur is said to fill the sky, trees, and sea with light.
  • 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. According to Herodotus, swineherds were a kind of separate sect or caste, which only married among themselves. Egyptians regarded pigs as unworthy sacrifices to their gods other than the Moon and Dionysus, to whom pigs were offered on the day of the full Moon. Herodotus states that, though he knew the reason why Egyptians abominated swine at their other feasts but they sacrificed them at this one; however, it was to him "not a seemly one for me to tell".[16]
  • In Hinduism the god Vishnu 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)).
  • In keeping with Leviticus 11:7, the dietary laws of Judaism (Kashrut, adj. Kosher) forbid, among other kinds of meat, the eating of pork in any form, considering the pig to be an unclean animal (see taboo food and drink). From the strict reading to the relevant Torah passage, pork is as forbidden as the flesh of any other unclean animal, no more and no less; in practice, however, abhorrance of pork is far stronger and emotional in traditonal Jewish culture than that of other forbidden foods.
  • The eating of pork is also prohibited in Islam (see Halal), among Seventh-day Adventists and some other Christian denominations.
  • In Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and other older Christian groups, pigs are associated with Saint Anthony the Great, the patron saint of swineherds.
  • In Haitian Vodou, Ezili Dantor, the lwa of motherhood, is associated with the black Creole Pig of Haiti, her favorite animal sacrifice.

Environmental impacts

Domestic pigs that have 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 change. Their omnivorous diet, aggressive behaviour, and their feeding method of rooting in the ground all combine to severely alter ecosystems unused to pigs. Pigs will even eat small animals and destroy nests of ground nesting birds.[4] The Invasive Species Specialist Group lists feral pigs on the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species and says:[17] s) in Florida]]

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.

Health issues

Pigs harbour a range of parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to humans. These include trichinosis, Taenia solium, cysticercosis, and brucellosis. Pigs are also known to host large concentrations of parasitic ascarid worms in their digestive tract.[18] The presence of these diseases and parasites is one of the reasons why pork meat should always be well cooked or cured before eating. Some religious groups that consider pork unclean refer to these issues as support for their views.[19]

Pigs are susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia. They have small lungs in relation to body size; for this reason, bronchitis or pneumonia can kill a pig quickly.[20] There is concern that pigs may allow animal viruses such as influenza or Ebola Reston to infect humans more easily. Some strains of influenza are endemic in pigs (see Swine influenza), and pigs also can acquire human influenza.

Pigs can be aggressive and pig-induced injuries are relatively common in areas where pigs are reared or where they form part of the wild or feral fauna.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Production, Supply and Distribution Online Query, United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service
  2. ^ Swine Summary Selected Countries, United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, (total number is Production (Pig Crop) plus Total Beginning Stocks
  3. ^ Feral Pig / Hog / Pig / Wild Boar Hunting
  4. ^ a b c d ADW: Sus scrofa: Information
  5. ^ a b Pigs (2006)
  6. ^ Managing Heat Stress In Outdoor Pigs
  7. ^ Müller, 1838
  8. ^ Heude, 1892
  9. ^ Heude, 1888
  10. ^ Müller & Schlegel, 1843
  11. ^ Groves, 1997
  12. ^ Nehring, 1886
  13. ^ a b Linnaeus, 1758
  14. ^ Müller, 1840
  15. ^ Funk et al. (2007)
  16. ^ Sacrifice Goats, female or male.
  17. ^ Ecology of Sus scrofa, Global Invasive Species Database, The Invasive Species Specialist Group
  18. ^ Pig Health
  19. ^ Marie Parsons. "Pigs in Ancient Egypt"
  20. ^ Pros and Cons of Potbellied Pigs
  21. ^ McClung, Robert M., "The New Book of Knowledge: Pigs"


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Middle English pigge "pig, young pig" from Old English *picga "young pig" (attested only in compounds). Akin to Old English picgbrēad "mast, pig's food". Of uncertain origin and relation.



Domestic pigs (Sus scrofa)
pig (plural pigs)
  1. Any of several mammals of the genus Sus, having cloven hooves, bristles and a nose adapted for digging; especially the domesticated farm animal Sus scrofa.^ Swine, Sus scrofa domestics, are widely used in research and testing.
    • "Information resources on swine in biomedical research " 2 February 2010 16:45 UTC www.nal.usda.gov [Source type: Academic]

    ^ All swine commonly used in research and testing are Sus scrofa domestics, whether they are farm or miniature breeds.
    • "Information resources on swine in biomedical research " 2 February 2010 16:45 UTC www.nal.usda.gov [Source type: Academic]

    • The farmer kept a pen with two pigs that he fed from table scraps and field waste.
  2. (specifically) A young swine, a piglet.
  3. (uncountable) The edible meat of such an animal; pork.^ Review of Swine Genetics in the U.S. http://www.nsif.com/Conferences/1995/review.htm    Article by Larry D. Young, USDA-ARS, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center Clay Center, Nebraska.
    • "Information resources on swine in biomedical research " 2 February 2010 16:45 UTC www.nal.usda.gov [Source type: Academic]

    • Some religions prohibit their adherents from eating pig.
  4. Someone who overeats or eats rapidly and noisily.
    • You gluttonous pig! Now that you've eaten all the cupcakes, there will be none for the party!
  5. A nasty or disgusting person.
    • She considered him a pig as he invariably stared at her bosom when they talked.
  6. A dirty or slovenly person.
    • He was a pig and his apartment a pigpen; take-away containers and pizza boxes in a long, moldy stream lined his counter tops.
  7. (British, US, AUS, derogatory slang) A police officer.
    • The protester shouted, “Don't give in to the pigs!” as he was arrested.
  8. (informal) A difficult problem.
    • Hrm...this one's a real pig: I've been banging my head against the wall over it for hours!
  9. (countable and uncountable) A block of cast metal.
    • The conveyor carried the pigs from the smelter to the freight cars.
    • After the ill-advised trade, the investor was stuck with worthless options for 10,000 tons of iron pig.
  10. The mold in which a block of metal is cast.
    • The pig was cracked, and molten metal was oozing from the side.
  11. (engineering) A device for cleaning or inspecting the inside of an oil or gas pipeline, or for separating different substances within the pipeline. Named for the pig-like squealing noise made by their progress.
    • Unfortunately, the pig sent to clear the obstruction got lodged in a tight bend, adding to the problem.
  12. (British) a pigeon.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Derived terms


to pig
Third person singular
Simple past
Past participle
Present participle
to pig (third-person singular simple present pigs, present participle pigging, simple past and past participle pigged)
  1. (of swine) to give birth.
    • The black sow pigged at seven this morning.
  2. To eat greedily (also pig out), or in a noisy or dirty fashion.
    • They were pigging on the free food at the bar.



From Old Norse pík.


  • IPA: /pig/, [pʰiɡ̊]
  • Homophones: pik


pig c. (singular definite piggen, plural indefinite pigge)
  1. spike
  2. barb
  3. spine (needle-like structure)
  4. quill (needle-like structure)
  5. prickle (a small, sharp pointed object, such as a thorn)




pig (plural pigs)
  1. pig
  2. pot, jar, earthenware

Derived terms

  • pig-hoose
  • pirlie pig
  • uilie-pig
  • whisky pig

Torres Strait Creole


From English pig.


  1. pig


Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 21, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Pig, which are similar to those in the above article.

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