The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Domesticated Pig

|- | style="text-align:center;" | Sow with piglet
Sow with piglet |- style="text-align:center;" ! style="background: pink;" | Scientific classification |- style="text-align:center;" |

|- valign=top |Kingdom:||Animalia |- valign=top |Phylum:||Chordata |- valign=top |Class:||Mammalia |- valign=top |Order:||Artiodactyla |- valign=top |Family:||Suidae |- valign=top |Genus:||Sus |- valign=top |Species:||scrofa (or domesticus) |} |- style="text-align:center;" ! style="background: pink;" | Binomial name |- style="text-align:center;" |Sus scrofa
Linnaeus, 1758 |} 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.

Pigs are intelligent animals, and some are kept as pets. Pigs are reportedly more intelligent and more trainable than dogs and cats. Pigs were brought to southeastern North America from Europe by De Soto and other early Spanish explorers, where escapees became feral and became freely used by Native Americans as food.

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 pigs:

  • Adult male pigs are called boars
  • Adult females are called sows
  • Juvenile animals are called piglets and farrows
  • Young pigs between 100–180 pounds (50 to 90 kg) 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, bacon or bologna when it has been part-preserved by brine or some other processing. 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 it to be an unclean animal: no form of pig meat can be kosher or halal.

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 among the few mammals not to have sweat gland s. Thus they must have access to water or mud to cool themselves during hot weather.


Sow and five piglets
Sow and five piglets
  • In ancient Greece, a sow was an appropriate sacrifice to Demeter and had been her favorite animal since she had been the Great Goddess of archaic times. Initiates at the Eleusinian Mysteries began by sacrificing a pig.
  • Pigs are commonly associated with greed ("as greedy as a pig ") and with dirt; the latter probably comes from their habit of wallowing in mud.
  • In American English, the term 'pig' is a derogatory slang term for a police officer.

See also

Pig is also the name of an industrial music artist, P.I.G.

PIG is an acronym for Pipeline Inspection Guage

A pig is also a bullet shaped polyurethane plug that is forced through pipelines to clean them. [1]

Last updated: 02-07-2005 06:05:09
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55