Pigs are fascinating animals and are often studied by biology students because of their bodies’ similarities to the bodies of humans. Pigs have almost all the same organs as humans in their chests and abdomens, although there are a few differences, as you will see below.
Do pigs have an appendix? No, pigs do not have an appendix. They do have an intestinal pouch in the approximate area where the human appendix is found. That pouch is called the cecum. (Although humans also have a body part called a cecum, in humans, the cecum is merely the junction of the small and large intestines.)
Pigs do not have an appendix because they have a cecum. There is some debate about the function of a pig’s cecum.
Although some zoologists believe the cecum has no function and that the pig’s other digestion organs perform the function of the appendix without an additional organ.
Others believe it has the same function as the human cecum.
Pigs’ Digestive System
A pig’s digestive process is almost identical to that of a human. Here is the progression of food through the pig’s digestive system:
The pig bites and chews the food, and its chewing breaks the food into small pieces. In addition to the teeth, saliva helps to begin digestion. Saliva is released, by reflex, when food enters the mouth. The saliva contains chemicals to break down the food – especially the carbohydrates. The pig then swallows the food.
After the food is swallowed, it enters the esophagus. The esophagus is a long tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. In this tube, a movement begins that helps the food move through the digestive system. This movement is called peristalsis.
In the stomach, the food is broken down by chemicals. A very strong chemical called pyloric acid dissolves much of the food into a semi-liquid form. The peristalsis continues, and the food is still moved within the stomach until it is ready to move to the small intestine. When it is ready, the food is called chyme. The last part of the stomach pushes the food into the small intestine.
Most of the vitamins and minerals of the food are digested here. Inside the small intestine, in addition to moving toward the large intestine, the food continues to be broken down and absorbed. The pancreas (the organ that controls blood sugar) will take the natural sugars from the food and use them as it is needed and react to the amount of sugar it finds. Helping the peristalsis move the food along are little projections called villi. These projections look like fingers and help to pass the food forward. At the end of the small intestine, the food is ready to enter the large intestine. The liver now uses bile salts from the gall bladder to process the fatty parts of the food into energy.
Any parts of the food not yet digested move first into the cecum and then the large intestine. In the large intestine, any water left in the food is now absorbed. What is left over becomes the pig’s feces. The feces is gathered together and then formed into the shape it will be when it is let out through the rectum.
Can You Eat Pig Intestines?
The pig’s large intestines can safely be made into a dish called chitterlings (also called “chitlins.”) This dish is a popular in South American.
They are also closely associated with “soul food.” For many years, when African-American musicians traveled through the South, they identified restaurants that would serve them as those which served chitlins.
Considering their origin in the intestine, it is understandable that chitlins must be carefully cleaned and thoroughly cooked. Since chitlins take a long time to clean and prepare, they are often saved for special occasions.
Chitlins have a mild flavor, so they taste like the spices they are prepared with. They are commonly served with hot sauce and vinegar.
What Is the Function of the Appendix in Animals?
The appendix was once thought not to have any function, but recent scientific studies have shown that the appendix is part of our immune system.
Just like all parts of the immune system, the appendix plays a role in fighting infection.
Although bacteria is a type of germ that makes us sick, there are “good” and “bad” types of bacteria.
We need “good” bacteria to break down our food during the digestive process. There is a lot of that “good bacteria” in the large intestine.
However, even though we need it there, keeping that bacteria from getting into the small intestine is important. (The small intestine has a more delicate and sterile environment.)
Since the appendix is located between the large and small intestines, it acts like a “shield” to keep the bacteria from entering the small intestine. The appendix can store a great deal of that bacteria.
One important function of the appendix can be to restore the balance of “good bacteria” in the body when that bacteria is lost after someone has diarrhea.
A few days after having diarrhea, the appendix can help the body return to health by replacing the good bacteria. (People who have had their appendix removed may have more diarrhea because the appendix is not there to restore proper bowel function.)
What Animals Have an Appendix?
Scientists have found only a few animals besides humans; that have an appendix. Great apes, other primates, opossums, wombats, rabbits, and some rodents have been shown to have an appendix.
For animals with an appendix, it appears to function in the same way the human appendix does as a part of that animal’s protection against infection.
Conclusion: Do Pigs Have an Appendix?
No, pigs do not have an appendix. A pig’s body parts are very similar to those of a human. Pigs have a pouch called a cecum, which is part of their digestive system. Some zoologists believe the cecum performs the function of storing bacteria.
Overall I do encourage you to keep learning about anatomy of pig as it will help you learn more