Are Pigs Herbivores? 3 Reasons to Know

What do pigs eat? Are pigs herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? These two and a million other similar questions come to our minds when we are about to bring our first pig home. Since at this stage we are bothering about the animal’s shelter and some necessities like food. It’s fair to ask such questions and demand a detailed answer. As curiosity brought you here, here is the detailed answer.

Are Pigs Herbivores?

No for the record, pigs are naturally omnivores however, some of us take them as herbivores. The domestic pigs get to eat plants and food scraps a lot so it appears that the said animal is herbivores. However, the reality is quite opposite; the pigs are omnivores.

Are pigs herbivores? Is a widely asked question that remains unsatisfactorily answered. As the debate is still on whether pigs are herbivores or omnivores? Let’s address this question in detail. 

To be able to settle the debate yourself for yourself, you need to understand the terms and the pig’s eating habits more keenly. 

Though we all know the terms “herbivore”, “carnivorous”, and “omnivores” by heart, let’s revise it a little just so we can prove if the said animal is “actually”  omnivore or not. 

Herbivores

In simpler words, the animals that are anatomically and physiologically designed to eat plant materials like foliage or marine algae are taken as herbivores.

Even if herbivores have the option to eat meat, they can not do so because their mouth is adapted to rasping or grinding. Moreover, their digestive system can not digest meat as well.

It can only process grass, fruits, vegetables, bulbs, roots, tree bark, and other tough plant materials. Deer, horses, elephants, camel, donkeys, cattle, zebras, goats, and sheep are the few common examples of herbivores. 

Omnivores

Omnivores are animals that can process and digest a variety of food options like eggs, insects, plants, meat, and fungi, etc.

In other words, omnivores are the animals that rely on animal protein and vegetation to live a balanced life.

Omnivores can hunt animals for food or choose to survive on plants. They usually have both sharp teeth and flat molars, which makes it possible for omnivores to eat plants and fellow animals. Examples of omnivores are birds, pigs, chimpanzees, dogs, bears, raccoons, insects, and humans. 

Carnivores

Carnivores are animals that mainly survive on other animals. They hunt and kill their fellow animals for food.

Carnivores prefer hunting herbivores, omnivores can also be hunted down but herbivores are preferred.

Carnivores need a large number of calories so they have to hunt bigger animals for survival. Lions, wolves, hyenas, leopards, polar bears, cheetahs, and pinnipeds, etc are common examples of carnivores. 

Now that the terms “herbivores”, “omnivores”, “carnivorous” have been explained, it’s quite obvious why pigs are categorized as omnivores.  The confusion still exists, here is why 

Why are Pigs Categorized as Omnivores? 

The most obvious reason why pigs are categorized as omnivores is that the said animal survives on both meat and plants.

If they get to eat meat quite often, it would be hard for the poor animal to fill their stomach with plants again. They are categorized as omnivores because they can eat and digest just about anything. 

pigs herbivores
pigs herbivores

If pigs eat plants and animals, how does the misunderstanding that pigs are herbivores still exist? 

How does this misunderstanding still exist? Is such a legitimate question as it’s quite obvious that the animal survives on both plants and meat.

The wild pigs are the main reason why this misunderstanding arose and still exists. The wild pigs mostly get to eat plant matter, seeing them eating plant matter most of the time trick us into thinking that pigs are herbivores.

Even the wild pigs that do not have many options are opportunist omnivores.

They eat eggs, worms, insects, small mammals, birds, and some reptiles whenever they get a chance to eat. As the wild pigs are hardly spotted eating meat, confusion arises are pigs “really” herbivores?

Pigs can eat almost anything they find on their way, this habit brought them to the list of omnivores

The simplest definition of omnivores is that the animals that can eat and digest just about anything are taken as omnivores.

If we notice pigs more keenly, they would be doing the same; eating everything they find on their way. So, how would they not be categorized as omnivores?

Pigs won’t even leave humans if they get a chance to eat

Pigs do not even mind eating human meat if they get a chance, it’s just that they hardly find it.

Several years back in 2012, a livestock keeper died of a heart attack, the pigs took it as a golden opportunity; they ate the dead body.

The deceased livestock keeper’s concerned relatives could only found his dentures. There are several other similar stories, it proves that the pigs do not mind eating any sort of meat.

Since they are not surviving on meat alone, these eating habits make them omnivores.

So, we can say that to be an omnivore the animal has to eat both plants and meat. The pigs are doing the same since the beginning of time.

Since they have been eating meat and plants both, categorizing them as herbivores would be wrong. Even if the domestic pigs keep on eating plants and food scrap all their life, they would still be omnivores by nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do pigs eat Animals?

Yes, pigs are categorized as omnivores. They do eat meat whenever they get a chance. The pigs eat small mammals, nesting birds, reptiles, and sometimes newborns of large-sized animals.

The pigs can not kill animals, they usually eat animals that are dead or killed by some other animals. The subject can only kill and eat rodents, deers, snakes, birds, frogs, lizards, and salamanders.

Are pigs carnivores?

No, only a few domestic animals or pets are carnivores and pigs are not one of them. Pigs are categorized as omnivores because the said animal can eat and digest both plants and meat.

In brief, pigs are not herbivores, they are omnivores. All those animals that can eat both meat and plants are taken as omnivores. Pigs can eat and digest everything they find in their way, whether it’s plants or meat. So, they must be categorized as omnivores.

  • Usman Aslam has done his degree in Agronomy and Animal breeding from the CAU (China Agriculture University). He is serving as a livestock expert in local farms.

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