Many of us already knew that pigs have a high IQ, but a new study published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology suggests they have more in common with companion animals than previously known. Based on recent findings, we now know that pigs are able to fetch objects, understand human direction, and recognize their friends. But here are eight more things we bet you didn’t know about these adorable oinksters.
1. A Sixth Sense
Pigs understand when a positive or negative event is about to occur, which increases their heart rates.
2. Recognition of Friends
The same way dogs can recognize other dogs from their barks, pigs identify other pigs through their odor. Sows can also distinguish the squeals of their own piglets.
3. Sensitive Snouts
Pig snouts contain the highest amount of tactile receptors. This means that not only do they use their snouts to forage for food, but also in social settings to sniff out identities, sexual and emotional states of others, and navigate aggressive encounters.
4. Robust Memory
If a pig is shown an object for two days, he or she will remember that object for five days. For important items such as food, pigs will use all of their senses to remember its location, color, smell, and size.
5. Unique Personalities
Pigs possess individual differences and preferences that are consistent over time. These one-of-a-kind personality traits include levels of aggression, sociability, and curiosity.
6. Play Fetch
Pigs not only understand commands such as “sit” and “jump,” they also comprehend the concept of playing fetch, and can perform the actions associated with objects such as running after and retrieving balls.
Pigs’ hearing range spans 42–40,500 Hz, which classifies them as “sensitive” in the ultrasound range—a frequency that is greater than the upper limit in humans’ range.
8. Human Understanding
Pigs understand the emotions attached to a person’s head position, and how these positions relate to attention. They can also understand the meaning behind a finger point.
9. Have Fun
The desire to play is connected with creativity, which helps shape their foundations for social and object-based abilities. Pigs play in a similar way to dogs and other mammals by engaging in both object play (such as pushing balls and carrying sticks) and social play (like chasing other pigs).
Pigs watch themselves in the mirror and recognize a sense of self, both mentally and physically. One mirror self-recognition test found seven out of eight pigs were able to find hidden food through spatial localization while the eighth went behind the mirror.
11. Play Video Games
… well, not quite. But a 1999 study found that pigs have enough self-awareness to recognize the connection between their use of a modified joystick and on-screen movements.