Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From the Kitchen - What Hogs Eat

By Leslie Field & Susan Healy, Animal Care

The World is My Oyster

Truly, this should be the slogan for Red river hogs (and other swine in general)! Pigs are amazing creatures that use their tusks and powerful bodies to root in the ground for all sorts of food items. They aren’t too picky when it comes to eating and are very opportunistic. Despite the common myths, swine are no dirtier than any other animal. They sleep during the day in an excavated hollow or under foliage to keep cool and away from biting insects and predators, and forage at night for food as they travel.

In the wild, they eat roots, fruit, seeds, nuts, grasses, fungi, insects, worms, reptiles, carrion and small animals. Red river hogs also swim and forage for water plants. These animals have even been known to follow chimpanzee groups and eat the fruit left behind by the chimps. No opportunity is missed!

At the Zoo however, foraging opportunities are less available so all the hogs have a nutritious pig chow and fresh produce such as apples, yams, carrots and celery. In addition, food enrichments (as seen in the last photo below) provide a great deal of entertainment and rarity to their daily routine and diet.

So when you see the hogs, think about the wide breadth of their palate (I wish my children were less-picky like the hogs) and you will appreciate their eating habits.


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