On Reflection, Pigs Are Smart
Posted on Nov 9, 2009
With all the bad press that pigs have been getting of late, owing to the swine flu scourge, it’s good to see that an academic journal, Animal Behaviour, has given our porcine friends a PR boost in the form of a study that shows pigs know how to identify themselves, and explore their surroundings, using mirrors. —KA
The New York Times:
Other researchers have found that pigs are brilliant at remembering where food stores are cached and how big each stash is relative to the rest. They’ve shown that Pig A can almost instantly learn to follow Pig B when the second pig shows signs of knowing where good food is stored, and that Pig B will try to deceive the pursuing pig and throw it off the trail so that Pig B can hog its food in peace.
They’ve found that pigs are among the quickest of animals to learn a new routine, and pigs can do a circus’s worth of tricks: jump hoops, bow and stand, spin and make wordlike sounds on command, roll out rugs, herd sheep, close and open cages, play videogames with joysticks, and more. For better or worse, pigs are also slow to forget. “They can learn something on the first try, but then it’s difficult for them to unlearn it,” said Suzanne Held of the University of Bristol. “They may get scared once and then have trouble getting over it.”
Flickr / REL Waldman