With 2019 being Year of the Pig, what could be more fitting than a round-up of these adorable oinking mammals? Often the movie Babe or a plate of tasty bacon first come to mind when people think of pigs, but there's much more to these brilliant barnyard creatures than breakfast. Did you know, for example, that pigs are smarter than most kids under the age of three? Or that there are twice as many pigs as there are people in Denmark?
Read on to learn more fascinating facts about pigs—including the history of the dinosaur pig that roamed the earth over 15 million years ago! And check out some cute photos of the farm's smartest, most social animals.
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Pigs Have a Long History Around the World
Nope, it wasn't a breed of cat or dog—pigs were the very first animals to be domesticated by humans. The earliest written evidence of a pig farm dates back to 3468 BC China, but many historians believe pigs were domesticated as long as 6,000 years ago.
A few years later—in 1539, to be precise—pigs crossed the ocean and arrived in America with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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A Dinosaur Pig Lived During the Late Eocene Epoch
According to fossil records, entelodonts, pig-like dinosaurs, roamed the planet about 16.3 million years ago, during the late Eocene and early Miocene epochs.
Enteledonts didn't completely resemble today's domesticated pigs, however. They stood about seven feet tall at the shoulder, had multiple (yes, multiple) sets of teeth, similarly to sharks, and weighed around 1,000 pounds. Because their appearance was so intimidating, entelodonts are often referred to as "terminator pigs" or "hell pigs." Quite the contrast to the sweet pig in the movie Babe, huh?Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Pigs Are Incredibly Intelligent Animals
Pigs aren't just good looks with their cute snouts and curly tails—they're incredibly intelligent animals, too. In fact, it's been proven that pigs are smarter than dogs, certain kinds of primates, and even human children under the age of three.
So, just how smart are these barnyard geniuses? Research has shown that pigs have excellent long-term memories. They can differentiate between pigs they know and pigs they don't; they know when human are being nice to them and when they aren't, and they can socially manipulate other pigs into doing their bidding! Sure, toddlers can be manipulative in other kinds of ways, but socially? We don't think so.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Piglets Can Recognize Their Moms' Voices—and Learn Their Names
Remember that whole thing about pigs being geniuses? Well, those major smarts aren't just limited to adult pigs—newborn piglets are pretty darn brainy, too. In fact, they're so intelligent that piglets can learn to run towards their mothers' voices and learn their human-given names within only two weeks of their birth. When are you gonna catch up, human babies?Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Pigs Love to Talk
Pigs are best known for their high-pitched squeals—which, by the way, can reach a whopping 115 decibels in volume—about three decibels higher than a jet engine. But that's not their only form of communication. Pigs are constantly chatting it up and have been known to utilize over 20 different vocalizations, all with different meanings.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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Pigs Are Extremely Social Animals
Because pigs are so smart, it should come as no surprise that they're super social. Not only are they playful, curious, and communicative, but they form close bonds with pigs—and other species of animals—too. When they're sleeping (or if it's just a little chilly out) they love to cuddle up, often snout to snout, for warmth and comfort. Can you think of anything cuter?Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Pigs Can Run Faster Than You Think
Have you run a mile lately? What was your time? If it was around seven minutes per mile, you're almost as speedy as a typical domesticated pig. Yup, you read that right. An adult pig can run about 11 miles per hour, or seven minutes per mile.
Don't partner up with a piggy for your marathon training just yet, though—pigs' lungs are relatively small in proportion to their body size, making their seven miles per hour pace unsustainable over longer distances.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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Pigs Have Super Powerful Noses
Although pigs have the poorest vision among barnyard animals, their sense of smell is incredibly powerful. It's so strong that many farmers use their pigs to find rare (and pricey) truffles hidden underground—hence the name "truffle pig." Plus, their snouts are extra sturdy and flexible, so they can easily root around in the dirt and mud.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Sows Sing to Their Piglets
Pigs love to communicate with each other. But here's the sweetest fun fact you'll hear today: Momma pigs—otherwise known as sows—are often heard "singing" to their piglets while they're nursing. I'm not crying, you're crying.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Pigs Can't Actually Sweat
We've all said it hundreds of times: "I'm sweating like a pig." Well, this old adage is factually inaccurate because pigs actually don't sweat. They have very few sweat glands, making it nearly impossible for them to perspire. Their preferred method of cooling down? Splashing around in a body of water or a giant mud puddle. There's even an island in the Bahamas you can visit to cool off and swim around with them.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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Pigs Don't Really "Pig Out"
When it comes to piggies, there's no such thing as "eating like a pig" or "pigging out." It's true that pigs will eat just about anything—including garbage and human bones, according to some reports—but they tend to eat slowly, savoring each bite of food with their whopping 15,000 tastebuds. For reference, we humans only have about 9,000 tastebuds.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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There's No Such Thing as Teacup Pigs
Despite all of those cute Instagrams you've seen, teacup pigs are not a breed of pig. In fact, teacups don't exist at all. Rather, "teacup" is a name breeders give everyday potbellied pigs that have been malnourished or inbred to stunt their growth.
There are many myths and misconceptions around so-called "teacup" pigs, so if you're considering adding one to your family, do your research first. Not only is it unethical to buy a "teacup" pig—breeders often use extremely cruel methods to achieve a smaller pig size—but doing so can have serious consequences for the health of the pig and your family. What's more, "teacup" pigs generally only live for about five years due to issues with their skeletal and immune systems that result from starvation and inbreeding.
If you're considering getting a pig as a pet, look into these two common breeds: