The Pig, if I am not mistaken,
Supplies us sausage, ham, and Bacon.
Let others say his heart is big,
I think it stupid of the Pig.
— Ogden Nash, "The Pig"
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The domesticated form of an omnivorous placental mammal, found pretty much worldwide in one form or the other. Kept by humans mainly as a food animal and for useful byproducts such as pigskin leather. Despite its excellent food value it is the subject of a significant number of food taboos - one reason may be that pig meat tastes quite a bit like human.
The breeding male is known as a boar and the female as a sow, with offspring known as piglets (and various other classifications by age only of real interest to farmers). A castrated male pig is called a gilt.
The actual etymology of the word 'pig' is fairly obscure being neither noticably Germanic, Celtic or Romance - which is unusal for any word in English, particularly a relatively prominent one.
The non-domesticated forms of this animal include that known as wild boar (generic to both genders): larger, hairier and more aggressive these creatures are indigenous to most of Eurasia and are amongst the more dangerous fauna of the region. They are still entirely edible, but far harder to kill - boar hunting has traditionally been a fairly high risk activity and a popular sport amongst risk takers. These are, after all, the creatures for which the boar spear was invented - a regular spear, fitted with a cross-bar to prevent the enraged animal driving itself up the haft once speared to take its revenge on the wielder.
- Truffle (fungus) - one of the lesser known uses for pigs is finding these.
- Werepig - not nearly as amusing as you might think…
Game and Story Use
- Pigs are famously omnivorous and therefore an excellent way of disposing of unwanted corpses- although they struggle to digest hair, so that's best burned off first.
- Also, quite disturbingly, the herds of feral pigs that appeared during the War Between the States, feeding on the large numbers of dead after major battles. Of course, given the logistical issues involved in that war, the consumption was prone to go both ways. Feral pigs - or even more dangerous boar - could be an "interesting" feature of unpoliced battlefields, especially for the wounded and other stragglers.
- Until fairly recently all sorts of people kept pigs, even in the middle of cities, as a useful recycler of food waste and a source of cheap meat.
- The ubiquity of the pig and the low socio-economic condition of many pig keepers has led to a wide variety of applications for pig products. According to British working class tradition, the only part of the pig that you can't find a use for is the squeal. Everything else becomes food or raw materials one way or another.
- Pig includes wild boar, which was a suprisingly challenging quarry for hunters down the ages, being smarter and more aggressive than many would expect. Odysseus was a famous hunter - an victim - of the boar.
- For some reason horses strongly dislike - and are often terrified of - pigs. This can't have made pig sticking any easier.
- Wild boar hunts would be an interesting digression in some RPGs.