Description and behaviour
A pig has a snout for a nose, small eyes, and a small, curly tail. It has a thick body and short legs. There are four toes on each foot, with the longer, middle toes used for walking.
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, excreta (including their own), garbage, and other pigs. In the wild, they are foraging animals, primarily eating leaves and grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. Occasionally, in captivity, pigs may eat their own young.
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 are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.
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 have been domesticated and raised as livestock by some peoples 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.
A female pig can become pregnant at around 8-18 months of age. She will then go into heat every 21 days. Male pigs become sexually active at 8-10 months of age. A litter of piglets typically contains between 6 and 12 piglets.
Pigs do not have functional sweat glands, 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.
Pigs are generally considered to be one of the...
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