Amazing Intelligence in Animals—the Pig

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”  —Winston Churchill

If you’re like the average person on this planet, you haven’t spent much time wondering what animal will dominate the world once humanity has managed to destroy itself and leave our planet up for grabs for the next best host. In fact, I’ll bet that you haven’t spent even a minute wondering about that!

But, for the moment, let’s suppose that, last night, after you’ve exposed yourself to an hour’s worth of evening news with its threats and warnings and shortfalls about how we’re in danger of annihilating ourselves, you felt a sudden needed a break from all that negativity, so you stepped outside for a breath of fresh air and gaze up at the vastness of the night sky, with its Milky Way and the trillions of other stars winking and blinking back at you—and wondered—if mankind did manage to obliterate himself off the world, what animal would be next in line to step forward and take their opportunity at making the world a livable place, and hopefully, do a better job of stewardship than we did?

If you guessed the lowly pig, you’d be in the right top-ten pick. According to Weird Nature, the pig is seventh in line as being the smartest primate on earth! Pigs have been known to outsmart dogs and considered by many experts to be on equal footing with the Chimpanzee for intelligence.

A male pig is called a boar and a female is referred to as a sow. A group of young piglets is referred to as a drift, and an older group of pigs are called a sounder of swine.

I know, as you’re enjoying your second helping of barbequed pork chop, grilled to perfection on your newly purchased back yard barbeque, the intelligence of a pig isn’t exactly what’s on your mind during that epicurean moment. But, did you know that pigs are considered smarter than dogs?

“It’s when you live in a pigsty that the pigs start to complain about who they have to share with.” —Anthony T. Hincks

And did you also know that the popular belief “dirty as a pig,” is false? Pigs, if given half a chance, are among the cleanest of animals in nature. Weird Nature claims that a pig, even beginning with their young piglets, will refuse to defecate anywhere near the area where it lives or eats. That’s better cleanliness than many of our other domesticated animals!

Pigs are social animals, living complex lives, and readily learn from each other through observation. They will often try to “work to outsmart each other,” adds Weird Nature. Pigs can be trained to perform numerous functions and tricks, and just like a dog, have been used in stage performances to show off their learned talents.

In their eating habits, pigs can be classed as “opportunist omnivores.” In other words, they’ll generally eat what’s available. The diet of feral pigs is mostly plants and tubers, bulbs, mushrooms and even grass. Feral pigs will also steal eggs from ground nesting birds and will eat lizards and other non-mammals.  Farm pigs that are allowed to live a natural life feed mostly on corn, rice and wheat, or whatever the farmer has available for them.

Similar to dogs and a few other mammals, pigs love to play in mock fighting with each other, and are excellent at walking through mazes to claim their prize at the other end of the maze. They can even manipulate a joystick, or on-screen cursor similar to what chimpanzees can do.

So, the next time you bite down on that perfectly barbequed pork chop, give thanks to the intelligence that you are eating!

“Our difficulties in understanding or effectuating communication with other animals may rise from our reluctance to grasp unfamiliar ways of dealing with the world.” —Carl Sagan

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
This entry was posted in Animals, Intelligence and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.