Life As A Pig
Pigs blanket the Earth as the most abundant, widespread mammals of all. Sus scrofa is the scientific name for the Eurasian wild boar under the family, Suidae. They are very adaptive and became one of the widest ranging species in the world with the help of human advocates. Other species include, ahoenobarbus, a bearded pig from the Philippines. The small-framed warty pig called, Sus oliveri is also from the Philippines and Sus cebicrons is from the Visayan Islands. Additional relatives in the same genus include the African warthog, phacochoerus, the African bushpig potamochoerus and Indonesian babyrousa. In general, pigs range from three to five feet in length and can weigh 300 pounds or more as adults. If a person takes excellent care of their Sus companion, the pig may life from 15 to 20 years. On the contrary, a pig living in the wild may only live up to 10 years or less.
The reputation of pigs varies according to different groups of people. Some religious people believe that contact with pigs should be strictly forbidden because they are filthy animals. They often refer to this them as swine. Some companies feel that pigs are only good for feeding the food industry. They produce products like, pork ribs, pig’s feet, pork chops and more. Some organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recognize the pig for its beauty and intelligence. It is easy to think of pigs as being nothing more than dirty, gluttonous organisms. However, learning about the life of pigs is quite fascinating. When living conditions are favorable pigs are highly social and productive. Today there are three ways to examine the pig’s point of view. They may live as domesticated pets, roam free in the wild, or live on a factory farm.
Living as Domesticated Pigs
A popular domesticated pig in the United States is the Vietnamese pot-bellied. The scenario of a pig in a happy home is presented with the assumption that all proper care instructions are being followed by the owner. In the situation wherein a pig lives in a human’s home as a pet, it should likely receive plenty of tender, loving care. The optimum diet would consist of grass and insects found in the dirt. In addition, they would eat plenty of vegetables and a pig chow brand that is special formulated. Pets in a good home will be protected from indoor plants that might potentially cause harm. Fruit and left-overs from human meals would be offered as a rare treat such as rewards for obedience. It would never be excessive because it could cause the pig to become obese. Aside from obesity, other health problems can occur due to skin infections, diseases from ticks, or lack of vaccines and deworming. A pet pig would also have proper care of their hooves and plenty of time for social interaction. If they are starved for attention or unable to run and play, pet pigs may become aggressive or destructive. In some ways they are like a child because they might challenge their owner’s authority at times. Pigs will require their own resting space. If it is not provided by the owner, they might gather materials to create their own place of refuge, even if it means damaging furniture or other household items. Female pigs are spayed prior to become six months of age. Otherwise, she would enter a heat cycle with a strong desire to mate with a boar. She would be under severe stress as her reproductive organs become susceptible to cancers, infections and other problems. Similarly, males would be neutered early in life because they are mature enough to mate at an age as young as eight weeks. If allowed to mate, the gestation period would last between 110 and 115 days. Finally, a domesticated pig can be trained to use a litter. In general, (and contrary to popular assumptions) pig like to keep their nesting area clean. In other words, it would not want to lay in its own urine or feces. The owner would naturally maintain a clean area for their pig to avoid the chances of causing a bacterial infection. The most unfortunate possibility that pet pigs may face is the potential for genetic engineering through breeding or in-breeding. This can become a problem because pigs can be born with deformities or severe size limitations. A perfect example is the newly popular, teacup pig. They are not naturally meant to remain extremely small. However, they are small because of being underfed or allowed to breed while still being piglets. Malnourishment leads to low bone density, weak immune systems, low life expectancy and hoof problems. Some poorly educated owners abandon them in light of overwhelming issues. If these problems are avoided, pigs can have plenty of emotional bonding with both humans and other animals such as cats and dogs. The best thing for a pet pig is to have at least one other pig for companionship. Living as a domesticated pet pig can be a pleasant, life-long experience.
Roaming Free in the Wild
Wild pigs occupy a great range of habitats. With the exception of Earth’s northern and southern poles, they live on every continent. Typical environments where wild pigs can be found include scrublands, rain forests, temperate forests, grasslands, savannas, and wetlands. When not subject to captivity pigs live in groups that stay very close together. They are called sounders. Sounders are comprised of many females and their offspring along with one male. As an example of a large sounder, the bearded pig can have as much as 300 members. The large number accounts for multiple family units or networks whose habitats overlap. Just like elephants and dolphins, wild pigs can use sounds to communicate with one another. They can warn each other that danger is near by making a loud roaring sound. One instance when loud roaring occurs is during the time when males are fighting for a mate. Once two pigs mate, they are bonded for life and produce an average of two litters per year. Dominating food sources represent another reason that wild pigs may fight. Therefore, they are large contributors to their own fatalities.
Adaptability to changes and mating with wild boars contribute to their survival and range. Examples of changes to which they successfully adjust include temperature extremes and seasonal food availability. In spring, they may graze in open grassland and marshland for grass and clover. On the other hand, in the summer months they adapt to dryer land by eating roots, tubers, bulbs and oats. From fall to winter, their diet may consist of acorns, nuts and berries. Since they are omnivorous, they exercise the option to eat amphibians, earthworms, rodents and reptiles. Depending on the daytime temperature, some activities might be reserved for the evening hours which are cooler. However, if the evenings are very cool, the pigs may spend time huddling together to prevent hypothermia and resume foraging in during the day. To protect themselves from extreme sunlight and cool their bodies on hot days, they will immerse their bodies in mud. This also minimizes the aggravation of insects on their skin.
Similar to domestic pigs, wild pigs maintain separate quarters for eliminating waste and setting up their sleeping and feeding zones. Their social order is maintained with the aid of their powerful auditory and olfactory sense. With various vocal cues such as squeals, growls and grunts, pigs can express their moods, behavioral intentions, well-being and location among many other things. A great example of communication among wild pigs is that of the mother and her young sows. The sow can let out a squeal to indicate stress and the mother will respond attentively. Young piglets will suckle from their mothers until 14 to 17 weeks and are weaned slowly. Finally, mothers in the sounder will assist one another’s young with nursing as needed. Life in the wild can be very peaceful and adventurous. The biggest problem for pigs in the wild besides other mammalian predators are human hunters. As a result, instead of living for one or 2.5 decades, they might live less than 10 years.
Living in a Factory Farm
Life in a factory farm is absolutely miserable for approximately 100 million pigs in the U.S. each year. (MSPCA) Some American farms might be more merciful in small ways than others. However, serving the food industry as a pig in these places is unbelievably horrific. Piglets are pulled from their mothers and mutilated when they are less than one month old. The mothers endure a cycle of forced breeding by artificial inseminations. During pregnancy, the female will live in small cages which do not allow them to turn or move freely. Pigs are subject to intense confinement and depression from loneliness and fear. The pigs who are being routed by force into the slaughter quarters can hear the painful screaming of other pigs as well as witness incredible torture being done constantly. On a slightly positive note, some farms have made alternative housing for pigs to include stalls in which mothers can freely turn around, free-range systems and indoor group housing systems. (MSPCA)
Even before the physical torture with extreme heat, knives and whips begins, the pigs live in filthy living quarters. They live amongst their own fecal matter, urine, vomit, blood and corpse of fellow pigs. (PETA) They endure extreme crowding and little or no ventilation wherein bacteria and viruses have a perfect breeding ground. Pigs suffer from excessive growth due to genetic engineering. Therefore, they suffer from arthritis and other physiological problems. Meanwhile, pigs are denied proper veterinarian care and much needed medicine. Although they might be fed huge sums of antibiotics, sickness ensues along with pain while they wait to be slaughtered. (PETA) Unwanted pigs are beaten over the head with metal poles or rods, or their head are slammed against the ground.
In conclusion, life as a pig can certainly be a painful task to describe. If a pig were so fortunate as to live in a loving home as a pet, it could enjoy the rays of natural sunlight and fresh grass beneath its feet. A pig could enjoy the finest things in life such as, mating the old-fashioned way unless they are spayed or neutered. They can drink fresh water, eat nutritious meals and rest in clean living quarters. They are vulnerable to genetic manipulation, but they can enjoy, loving bonds with people and other household pets. If a pig lives in the wild where the habitat is conducive to survival, life can be nice as well. There may be a few quarrels among males, the weather may be disagreeable at times and predators might threaten to impose. However, pigs can pursue their natural ambitions, pass on their genes and raise their young. Life on a factory farm allows for none of the above-mentioned advantages.