The domestic pig
is usually given the scientific name Sus scrofa
, though some authors call it S. domesticus
, reserving S. scrofa
for the wild boar
. It has been a domesticated animal for approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years. The animal is found across Europe, the Middle East and extends into Asia as far as Indonesia and Japan. The distinction between wild and domestic animals is slight, and domestic pigs have become feral
in many parts of the world (for example, New Zealand
); feral pigs can cause substantial environmental damage. The family Suidae also includes about 12 separate species of wild pig, most also classified in the genus Sus
Sus scrofa has four subspecies, each occupying distinct geographical areas. They are Sus scrofa scrofa (western Africa, Europe), Sus scrofa ussuricus (northern Asia and Japan), Sus scrofa cristatus (Asia Minor, India), and Sus scrofa vittatus (Indonesia).
Many different words in English identify different types of pig:
- adult male pigs are called boars
- adult females are called sows
- juvenile animals are called piglets and farrows
- young pigs between 100-180 pounds are called shoats
- a gilt is an immature female pig
- a barrow is a castrated male pig
- hog is used as a synonym of pig in the United States; in its original sense it means a castrated boar.
- swine is a plural noun meaning pigs
Pigs (or swine) that are allowed to forage may be watched by swineherds. A litter of piglets typically contains between 10 and 12 animals. Meat from pigs is called pork
in general and ham
in some cases. Their trotters are often sold as the jelly-like dish of pig's feet. Hog jowls are a popular soul food
. The American pig-raising industry calls pork a white meat, as opposed to beef; "white meat" (such as poultry) is often considered healthier than "red meat." Both Islam
and Orthodox Judaism
forbid the eating of pork in any form, considering the animal to be unclean: no form of pig meat can be kosher
While pigs are raised mostly for meat, their skin is used as a source of leather. Their bristly hairs are also traditionally used for brushes.
Pigs, like humans, are omnivores, making them easy to raise: on a small farm or in a large household they can be fed kitchen scraps as part or all of their diet.
Pigs are the only mammal not to have sweat glands.
- Consuption of pig flesh is prohibited by Jewish Kashrut and Muslim Halal
- The pig is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. Believers in Chinese astrology associate each animal with certain personality traits. See: Pig (Zodiac).
- Zhu Bajie is a famous monster pig in the Chinese novel Journey to the West.
- Pigs are commonly associated with greed and with dirt; the latter probably comes from their habit of wallowing in mud.
Photos of pigs and piglets