One of the smartest domestic animals is the humble pig. These creatures have precise memories, their own language, and can even dream. However, they’re widely disrespected. Pigs are often seen solely as a food source without a conscience. But with their many impressive qualities, they deserve our admiration.
Pigs have both short and long term memories. They can recall who has hurt them and who has treated them with kindness. With the ability to learn tricks and memorise routes through mazes to receive food, their intelligence is said to be similar to that of a human toddler. Piglets who are a mere four weeks old can even recognise themselves in mirrors, a concept many other animal species cannot grasp.
Swines have their own language of grunts and squeals, each for specific needs from requesting food to seeking out potential mates. Some screeches are as loud as 115 decibels – more noisy than a leaf blower. Newborn piglets can identify their mother’s voice, and sows have been known to communicate to their young when nursing, much like ourselves.
Pigs are similar to humans in both behaviour and physiology. Social creatures, they form intimate connections with one another. Sows stick together to bring up their young, and piglets frequently play together. They love to cuddle up and often sleep nose-to-nose. Pigs need the same amount of sleep as we do and have been known to reach the rapid eye movement phase that indicates dreaming. In fact, pigs are so much like us that we share some genetic make-up, which is why many scientists use pig stem cells in research.
Though they’re viewed as simple farm animals, pigs are more than that. They’re sentient beings capable of forming friendships, maternal bonds, and entire communication systems. Residing on this planet together, we must value their lives.