Interesting Facts About Pigs & Why Pigs Don’t Sweat

Domestic pigs are the most common pig species on Earth. Bred as livestock for meat and sometimes kept as pets, pigs are intelligent and social animals.

Some Domestic Pig Facts

Domestic pigs are stout animals with short legs, thick skin with a sparse covering of bristles and a short tail, usually curly or kinked. Pigs belong to the genus of even-toed ungulates and have a four-toed foot, with two larger toes in the middle to aid in locomotion.

They have a large snout comprised of prenasal bone and a disk of cartilage. They use their snouts for foraging through the soil. Pigs are omnivorous, meaning they eat plant material and animal meat. Their diet may include grasses, leaves, bark, fruits, insect, worms, rotting carcasses and other meats.

Pigs are monogastric because they have a stomach with one compartment like humans, rabbits, horses and chickens. Unlike ruminant animals, pigs cannot regurgitate the food that was eaten earlier as their digestive system is simple and does not support food regurgitation.

Breeding of domestic pigs can occur throughout the year but generally happens during the rainy season. Male pigs become sexually mature at around 8 months and females become sexually mature anywhere from 8-18 months. Females gestate for approximately 3 months and 3 weeks and have around 10 piglets per litter, having 3 litters per year.

Domestic pigs are bred as livestock for meat, the smaller pigs of 75kg or less are used for pork and the larger pigs of 100kg or more are used for bacon. Pigs can live for up to 25 years. The taxonomy of domestic pigs is:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Suidae
  • Genus: Sus
  • Species: S. Domesticus (Domestic Pig)
  • Scientific name: Sus domesticus

Read: 7 Best Pig Breeds for Commercial Pig Farming

Do Pigs Sweat?

The commonly known phrase “Sweat like a Pig” is not correct because pigs don’t actually sweat. Humans, other primates, bears and horses all sweat to cool down, but not pigs. When humans, for example, get hot, the skin sends a message to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus’ job is to regulate body temperature. After receiving the message from the skin, it then sends a message to the sweat glands via the spinal cord and the sympathetic ganglia. The sweat glands release liquid, which is 99% water and 1% salts, amino acids and other chemicals, onto the skin and as the sweat evaporates, it has a cooling effect.

Pigs don’t have the right kind of sweat glands to cool themselves in this way. Only a few sweat glands are functional and they can’t generate sweat. They are also unable to pant the way that dogs do, so cannot get rid of excess heat this way. So what’s a pig to do? They wallow and bathe in something wet, such as mud, ponds, seeps, and lakes to help them cool down.

So next time someone says they are ‘Sweating like a Pig’; a good reply might be to say that “Pigs don’t sweat, they wallow. Horses sweat, a lot, so perhaps you are sweating like a horse.” Just a thought.

Pigs are very clean animals, in spite of wallowing in the mud. They separate their living areas into sleeping, eating and bathroom sections. If there are other alternative sources of water for them to cool down their body, they won’t use the mud. If you provide pigs with the right wallow or water sprinkler and enough space, you will agree that they are one of the cleanest animals in the world.

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Akinbobola A.

I'm a livestock farmer, certified animal scientist and agro consultant. You can follow Livestocking on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to send me an email
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