Let’s face it: pigs often roll around in the mud. That may be why people often associate pigs with being dirty or sloppy. But pigs are relatively clean animals and there are good reasons for pigs to roll in the mud.
Why do pigs like mud?
It’s not so much that pigs like mud; they need it. Rolling in the mud (also known as wallowing) is an activity pigs need to stay healthy. Pigs will dig holes in muddy areas (called wallows) and put their whole bodies into the wallows.
Here are some reasons why:
1. They use the mud to keep their temperature in a normal range
Mud also helps keep the pig’s temperature normal because the mud evaporates. A Pigs have a relatively small number of sweat glands, and their bodies and a lot of body fat so they can’t sweat enough to keep their temperature cool during the summer months. When the mud dries, it will evaporate. The evaporation will keep their temperatures normal.
2. Wallowing is a social behavior
Pigs wallow together. They do it as a group, and it helps the pigs feel like they are part of the group.
3. Mud helps pigs get rid of parasites
Living outdoors means pigs pick up lots of different parasites on their skin. The mud keeps the parasites from getting inside the pigs’ bodies, and it will scrape off lice and ticks when pigs later rid themselves of the mud.
4. Pigs use mud to mark their territory
Male pigs will rub mud on items in the place they live. This activity leaves their scent in that place. The scented mud will allow the female pigs to find the place their chosen male pig lives. People who observe pigs will see an increase in wallowing by male pigs during mating season.
5. Mud keeps the pig from getting sunburned
The mud will apply a protective layer to the pig’s skin. This protective layer is the pig’s protection from the sun.
Do Pigs like to Be Dirty?
Despite how often they roll in the mud, pigs are relatively clean animals. On factory pig farms, pigs are kept in concrete enclosures and don’t have access to mud. In these conditions, the pigs keep themselves clean.
Pigs will naturally keep their bodies clean. However, when pigs are being raised for pig shows, they will need a bath about once a month.
Monthly bathing is done to get the pig used to the activity of bathing – since, during the show, they will be bathed every day to make them look as attractive to judges or potential buyers.
One sign of their desire to keep clean is their habit of going to the bathroom in a separate area from where they eat or sleep. This arrangement appears to be very important to pigs.
Are Pigs Happy in the Mud?
First, we should define how pigs show happiness.
Pigs communicate their feelings through body language, spreading their scents, and making sounds.
If you listen to a pig, it will signal how they feel. Grunting is a social behavior that is the equivalent of “hi,” for pigs – and they appear happy when doing this.
Pigs have been observed making sounds like “ooh” or “ahh” when they meet their family or herd members, which is also considered a sign of pig happiness.
Another social behavior they show is to pant or blow hot air on their family or herd members. They also do this to a caretaker they recognize.
Pig handlers have noted pigs wallow before and after several other activities necessary for their life and well-being. Pigs often eat or go to the bathroom before they wallow. Some pigs will drink from their wallows.
Since pigs wallow with other pigs, wallowing becomes a way for them to be part of their herds. Socialization is part of life for pigs in the same way it is for humans.
Some scientists have suggested wallowing is a calming activity for pigs. If the pig is too warm in the summer sun or bothered by the presence of parasites, ridding themselves of these problems by wallowing will let the pig feel better.
Therefore, to pigs wallowing is the equivalent of pig happiness.
Why Do Pigs Root in the Mud?
Rooting is a natural behavior for pigs. They do it to find food and are also believed to do it to obtain comfort.
Since pigs first find food by rooting at their mother’s teats, they associate the activity with getting comfort. This repetitive activity helps the pig become calmer – like a toddler using a pacifier.
The rooting (or digging) done by pigs also creates a pool of mud deep enough for the pig to place their whole bodies.
Do Pigs Prefer Mud or Water?
Some pig handlers use sprinklers (instead of mud) to keep pigs cool.
As regards temperature regulation, mud is a better choice for pigs. Water dries much more quickly than mud.
The additional time needed for the mud to dry gives the pigs a longer time to enjoy the sensation of cooling off for a longer time.
Even if they bathe or cool off in water, pigs still need mud – or another protective coating for their skin – to prevent sunburn and remove parasites.
Do Pigs Need Mud in the Winter?
Studies have shown pigs will wallow in cooler weather, too. They still need the mud to scrape off parasites, and their social reasons for wallowing still continue.
Conclusion:Why Do Pigs like Mud?
Rolling (or wallowing) in mud is a necessary activity for pigs. They need to wallow to regulate their temperature, prevent sunburn and remove parasites from their skin. Wallowing is done with other pigs from their herd and becomes a social activity.
Pigs appear to enjoy the sensation of wallowing but they could be showing happiness because of the benefits of the mud. A pig will enjoy the sensation of the mud cooling on their bodies better than water drying – because the mud takes longer to dry. Pigs continue to wallow in cooler weather, so wallowing is not done solely to reduce their temperatures.