4 min read
By: Atena T.
Hey there, so I rewatched "Babe" the other day - you know, that critically acclaimed 1995 movie with the talking piglet that thinks he's a sheepdog...holy cow!, that won the Golden Globe for best movie ( musical or comedy) and was nominated for 7 Oscars - and started thinking "Are pigs smarter than dogs?"
Now I know this is just a movie, and I'm no expert on pig intelligence, but I did some digging and this is pretty much the gist:
Scientific evidence suggests that domestic pigs are mentally, emotionally, and socially complex beings and they share a lot of traits with different species of animals that are regarded as intelligent. And it's a well-known fact that dogs are an intelligent species. But scientists have discovered that pigs are even smarter than dogs and most other species of animals. In fact, pigs are considered the 4th smartest species of animals after chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins. This means that pigs are the most intelligent species of domestic animals, period. Voila!
Now let me explain why pigs are superior not only to our canine companions but also to other pets and domestic animals. when it comes to intelligence. As I said, I did some research, so I'll explain this based on their cognitive abilities with respect to several cognition aspects.
Be sure to read on -- I promise this will be worthwhile. I think It doesn't hurt to take the time ( just a little bit) to learn more about and try to understand sentient beings around us, especially highly intelligent beings like pigs.
Spacial cognition refers to pigs' abilities to acquire knowledge and understanding of information about their own space/environment as well as to remember and use this information. And that's because spacial cognition consists of both learning and memory.
According to researchers, pigs use cognitive maps of their environment and this provides the foundation for many different social and non-social behaviors. Just to clarify, cognitive maps refer to mental representations in short-term and long-term memory. Dogs are well-known for their complex search and navigational abilities, and also for their capacity to consistently develop new spacial shortcuts.
But special tests, such as hole-board procedures have shown that pigs' spacial cognition capacities are superior to dogs, especially when it comes to learning how to navigate very complex spacial arrangements such as mazes. A hole board test measures several behaviors. Just in case you don't know what a hole board is -- it's basically an area that has walls all around and holes in its floor that enable pigs to forage just like in a natural setting.
The conclusion is that pigs use space-related memory in a flexible way. This means that they can both return to an area they know it has lots of food and use the memory of a previously found area with little to no amounts of food to go forage somewhere else. Aren't they smart? I think so.
These abilities refer to learning how to discriminate objects and stimuli, including complex ones Our canine friends excel at classifying color photos of various natural stimuli like landscapes and other dogs. But it has been demonstrated that pigs are superior to dogs in terms of complex object discrimination.
To be more specific, after exposure to an object for only 2 days, pigs can remember it for at least 5 days. And pigs also prefer new objects to more familiar ones, which shows they have exceptional long-term memory. Bravo! In addition, they are able to discriminate between both colors and odors ( food-related) when searching for food. And they have the capacity to comprehend complex verbal and gestural symbols of different objects and actions like dolphins do. And they can even solve jigsaw puzzles. How about that?
Perspective-taking refers to the complex cognitive capacity of taking the perspective of another individual; in other words, viewing a certain situation from another individual's POV. A certain type of social cognition called Machiavellian intelligence is based on this capacity and is considered a key sign of intelligence in primates. Well, guess what? Pigs are able to develop more complex social competitive behavior than dogs. In fact, pigs' perspective-taking abilities are almost as excellent as those of chimps. Wow!
Pigs' inquisitiveness and preference for novelty are indicative of their cognitive complexity, as is the fact that they seek to engage in many different complex types of play, including object play and social play. Play satisfies their need to discover and explore new things. At once, it plays a crucial role in healthy emotional and behavioral development. I think this is very interesting -- makes me think of them as children.
Pigs can be trained to anticipate both happiness - by rewarding them with a treat they love or providing a roomy peat-filled pen - and distress - by keeping them isolated in a small pen. They can also be trained to perform various tasks using a cursor. Pigs have the ability to learn new and complex tasks just as fast as chimpanzees, the most intelligent animals. So it comes as no surprise that most animal behavior experts regard pigs as more trainable than dogs.
Hopefully, these scientific facts will make you see pigs with a new set of eyes. IMO, all animals deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. I think that all of us can make an effort to show some respect at least to highly intelligent domestic/farm animals like pigs. And a simple way we can all do that is to let them enjoy the gift of life. Surely we can do that! I'm pretty sure pigs love life as much as we do, don't you agree?
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