The hog (pig) has existed for at least 45 million years as a stocky, round bodied, flat snouted creature . They come in all sizes from the small pygmy hog ( 1 foot tall at the shoulder and 13 pounds) to the giant forest hog (40 inches at the shoulder and 300 pounds). Of course, domestic hogs can be much heavier (record is over 2500 pounds) . And they can be cute as demonstrated by the star of the movie "Babe" (Website) which stars a very unusual pig with lots of talent. Babe is the inspiration for this piggy section and I hope you enjoy it. Babe 2 or Babe: Pig in the City was the second Babe movie released November 25, 1998. This movie with its foreboding sounds and background music and dark images was more for adults than children, but was voted one of the best movies of 1998 by Siskel and Ebert.
Pigs or hogs are part of the order Artidactyla (even toed, hoofed animals) and the family Suidae. The five genera and nine species live on every continent except Antarctica. Wild pigs roam forests, meadows, and swamps. They are surefooted and rapid runners, good swimmers and fond of mud baths. When cornered they will fight courageously and will use their tusks as weapons. They are mainly active at night and have an omnivorous diet of fungi, roots, bulbs, tubers, fruit, snails, earthworms, reptiles, young birds, eggs, small rodents and carrion.
The first domestication of the pig is thought to have taken place in China around 4900 BC and may have occurred as early as 10,000 BC in Thailand. Many breeds were developed especially in Europe and they became important farm animals. The first pigs in the United States were brought by Polynesians to Hawaii around 1000 AD. and by the Spanish in the Southeast in the early sixteenth century. Average lifespan in the wild is 15-20 years but may be up to 27 years. Litter size varies from 2-12 piglets. Domestic pigs have much larger litters with one of 37 recorded. Hair varies from very bristles and practically hairless to the curly woolly coats of Ecuador herd hogs. Colors vary too, from the white or black solid and many colors inbetween to the rust colored with white and black highlights of the Red River Hog. Groups pf pigs are called herds or sounders. The basic sounder is made up of females and their babies from this year and from the previous year.
The pygmy hog is classified as endangered with only 100-150 individuals living in Assam. The Javan pig was thought to be extinct until a few were found. Many more species are classified as vulnerable due to habitat destruction and excessive human hunting.
Even some of the domestic breeds are in danger of disappearing. Among these are the Berkshire Pig of Britain, the Gloucester Old Spot Pig (rare), the Guinea Hog of Africa (rare), Large Black Pig (critically rare), Mulefooted Hog (American and toes are fused to form a foot like a mule, very rare), Ossabaw Island Hog (feral pigs off the coast of Georgia), Poland China Pig (American), and the Tamworth Pig , one of the oldest breeds known (Britain and only distantly related to modern breeds).