I grew up in the country side where we had many pets growing up. Growing up on the farm there were cows, sheep, horses and the very dear animal I wanted most was a pig! It’s funny how you hear most people asking for a puppy or a horse, but I remember telling my Dad ‘please can we get a pig’. The thing I am so grateful for is that he really did. It was after he gave me the book Charlotte’s Web for my Birthday that I knew I wanted to get a pig. They are such beautiful, intelligent and kind animals that deserve as much love as any other pet.
The day I met Hercules, he was a wee little black and white Kune Kune piglet. Sadly, he was the last piglet left because nobody wanted him. As soon as I saw him, I thought he was perfect. Every time he was happy, his tail would wiggle a little, and he loved getting his belly scratched. Every time he saw me, he would run right over and oink. I remember spending hours just sitting beside him watching him eat and fall asleep. We later got Shyla who I named because she was a very shy sweetheart.
They are incredibly intelligent animals. I feel really strong about expressing this, because in society, books and the media, pigs are called stupid, filthy and disgusting and that breaks my heart because they are incredibly intelligent creatures. The word pig is often used as an insult in many languages. Pigs are one of the smartest animals in the world, and some say even more than cats and dogs. They have excellent memories, high sense of smell and are able to learn quite quickly. They’re often used to sniff for truffles because of their wonderful sense of smell.
Pigs are affectionate and loving. If a pig is treated poorly or is protecting and defending itself or its babies, it will stand up for itself. However, similarly to raising a puppy, if you raise your piglet well then you bring out more of their sweet personality. They absolutely love getting belly scratched and sometimes if you sing them to sleep, they’ll oink slowly until they fall asleep. I remember when Hercules sensed me standing up to leave, he’d open his eyes. If you’ve ever held a piglet in your arms, you know that warm feeling. Pigs are very loving!
Pigs are often seen as fat, ugly and overweight. There are pigs that are far too overweight because their owner has fed them too much. In many cases pigs are fattened up because they are going to be killed for their meat. There’s that mindset that the fatter the pig is the better the meat will be. I feel that the fatter the pig is, the crueler it is that it’s being forced to become obese. Pigs are not supposed to be overweight, just as much as your pet dog or cat should not be overweight. A healthy pig is naturally lean. I think they are beautiful animals, even though not everyone feels the same way. They may not have the elegance of a cat, but they are very humble animals.
Pigs are very clean and hygienic. Pigs are often seen as dirty, most often because of the environment humans put them in. Imagine all those terrible factories that enclose pigs in tight spaces with their own faeces. Pigs are one of the cleanest animals I know. My old pet pigs would never make their sleeping or eating area dirty. They do love to roll in mud, because they are protecting themselves from the sun and also because it cools them down. The layer of mud can act like a sunscreen or an insect repellent from bugs. Pigs don’t have functional sweat glands and are at risk of overheating. The photo from here depicts the amount of times Hercules has tried to lie in the water bucket or tipped it over to make a mud puddle.
Pigs are not smelly unless they’re in a bad environment. It saddens me that there’s a lot of negativity towards our fellow pigs. Pigs are thought of as smelly, because in many places they are kept in the same place that they sleep, eat and poo. It’s incredibly unhygienic and cruel. As I mentioned before they are very clean. However, if we put them in a bad environment, then they will be smelly. Their natural smell is quite subtle with perhaps some hay scent. It’s also the owners responsibility to keep the bedding area clean and change the hay, because the pig does prefer a clean environment. From a piglet, they are taught by their mothers where they should eat and what area is the toilet.
Some Pigs are actually very picky eaters. Hercules would often eat the bread and apples first, and then leave the lettuce and carrots last. Pigs absolutely love fruits. Perhaps they have a sweet tooth. There’s a misconception that pigs are greedy and will eat anything and just love food in general. There are some that do have a bigger appetite than others, but I don’t think pigs are greedy. This is another huge misconception placed onto pigs. A pig eats as much as it does to feel full, but they do teach us the art of enjoying our food.
Pigs have feelings and are sensitive animals. I know this isn’t a nice imagery to place in your head, but imagine a pig screeching because it knows it’s about to get slaughtered. If you’ve ever watched a video and heard the sound of a pig knowing it’s going to be killed, you know that they are intelligent and emotional, and they feel that fear. This is the same as when they’re happy and upset. They’ll wag their tail into a tight curl and oink noisily, and if they’re sad, you can almost feel it and see it in their eyes. Next time you see a pig, remember that they’re not dirty and smelly, but that they’re beautiful, intelligent and wonderful creatures.