I was watching a rerun of Northern Exposure this morning, an episode about a mosquito festival and a truffle sniffing pig, when I suddenly wondered if pigs were naturally fat. I remembered some photos I had seen a long time ago of laboratory rats that had been fed so much food they looked liked grotesque hairy sausages. Seemed that they, like other animals, will eat and eat and eat if given an unlimited supply of food. For whatever reason, that truffle sniffing pig looked like a laboratory experiment to me. Grotesquely obese. What does a normal pig look like, one that is fit and trim?
According to Wikipedia, pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domestica), its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives. Pigs are omnivores and are highly social and intelligent animals. We are averse to eating other highly social and intelligent animals, so why do we put aside this aversion to gnaw on a pork chop? Pigs rank fourth in the list of most intelligent animals in the world, behind chimps, dolphins, and elephants. Who knew? They learn tricks faster than dogs and their grunts are a complex form of communication. The are very close to their mates. Pigs like to snuggle up with each other at night when they sleep, are very family oriented, and live in Tribes. Sounds like my kind of people.
Pigs don't have any sweat glands, so they don't like heat. That is why they have to roll around in the mud, to cool off. They are also fantastic swimmers. Whodda thunk?
To imagine what a healthy, fit pig would look like, I turn to the wild boar. Wild boars live a natural lifestyle, eat whatever they can find, and burn lots of calories doing so. They are lean and mean. Maybe that is it, domestic pigs don't get much exercise so they gain weight. I can relate to that. I learned a baby pig eats so much its first week it actually doubles in weight! But I wasn't satisfied with this crumb of information, I needed more.
So I searched Google and asked the question "why are pigs fat?". Turns out they aren't. Pigs are giant muscle bound animals with small legs, making them appear to be portly. Just shows you can't judge a book by its cover.
I learned many things today while researching Pig. Pigs and I, we're a lot like each other. And I am sure I will think twice before biting into the next piece of bacon.