We’re saying goodbye to the Year of the Dog and welcoming in the Year of the Pig come Chinese New Year. We’ve gone the whole hog ahead of the festivities, and been turning our mind to fun facts about piggies…
1. There are ten different species of pig including domestic pigs, wild boars, various warty pigs and bearded pigs. Within the species are hundreds of different breeds – especially within the domestic pig family. The only kind of pig you are likely to spot in Singapore is the wild boar. Look out for them in places like Pulau Ubin, although there have been sightings of a herd of these hairy beasts hogging the road at a bus interchange in Tuas!
2. Singapore loves pork: around 115,000 tonnes of it is imported in every year, with Brazil, Indonesia and Australia being the top three sources. Live imports from Malaysia into Singapore were banned in 1999 due to concerns over the Nipah virus outbreak, but in November 2018 pigs were once more allowed in (via boat!) from Sarawak in East Malaysia: it was certified Nipah virus-free in 2010. Worldwide, pork is the most consumed meat of all: 85 billion tonnes of it are devoured annually! That’s a whole lotta bacon sandwiches.
3. If your little ones don’t have their own bank accounts, chances are they do have a piggy bank. But why are they called piggy banks? Well, in the 15th century, dishes and pots were made of an inexpensive clay called pygg. Whenever the good folk of the Middle Ages had a spare coin or two, they would drop it into a clay jar – their pygg jar. You can see where this is going, right? No actual pigs were ever used.
4. If you think your kids are fast when they decide to make a bolt for it at the park, your little sprinters have nothing on piggies at full pelt. Believe it or not, despite their lazy reputation, pigs can run really fast! We’re talking around 17km per hour for a domestic pig, and a Usain Bolt-ish 40km per hour for a wild pig. You won’t find them dashing about in straight lines though: they prefer to zig zag!
5. Pigs have pretty poor eyesight, but their snouts do all the seeing for them. A pig’s sense of smell is a whopping 2000 times more sensitive than a human nose. They use them to root out food, and often sleep snout-to-snout as a form of affection.
6. Pigs are clever. They are smarter than the average three year old child, brainier than dogs and have equal intelligence to some primates. There’s no pulling the wool over the eyes of these farmyard smart cookies.
7. While you’ve probably heard the expression ‘sweating like a pig’, it’s actually complete hogwash. Pigs have very few sweat glands and don’t sweat at all! Which is why you’ll find them wallowing around in pools of cool mud: this is their way of lowering their temperature (and way more environmentally friendly than air conditioning!).
8. We all know that pigs are noisy, but did you know that they are communicating constantly with one another? They have a whole range of different oinks, squeals and grunts which have distinct meanings. In fact, piglets learn to recognise their mother’s voices at just two weeks (and their own names too!).
9. Not only are pigs peaceful animals who rarely lose their cool, they are incredibly social too. They prefer to live in groups of around eight, and have their own hierarchy within each herd. Pigs also make great mums, and develop strong bonds and love for their piglets.
10. Grown up pigs can weigh in at over 318kg – that’s around 1/3 of a ton! And the biggest porker ever? A large chap by the name of Big Bill. Owned by Elias Butler of Jacksonville, Tennessee, Big Bill was five feet tall, nine feet long and tipped the scales at a colossal 1157kg! This world record was set back in 1933, and despite some heavy weight contenders (including Ton Pig from China and Hog Kong from Florida), Big Bill remains the biggest hog that ever there was.
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