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How Well Do Pigs Hear, See and Smell?

Potbellies have good hearing through their upright small ears. But since they have relatively immovable ears, they must turn their heads to find out exactly from where the sound is coming. Hearing is one of their main defense mechanisms; therefore, they can be easily panicked by a sudden, loud or unusual noise. When they hear something and do not know exactly what it is or where it is coming from, potbellies will freeze and hold their breath until they can figure it out. Pet owners will also agree that potbellies can have selective hearing. Sometimes they pretend that they are as deaf as a post just because they choose not to be co-operative. At the same time they can hear their food bowl being filled from another room.
Generally speaking pigs’ eyesight are believed to not be very good. They do not have well developed eye muscles that would aid them in sharp focusing. Many authorities believe that potbellies are near sighted. Their eyes are small and set on each side of their head. They have relatively good lateral vision, which means they can look at you with one eye without turning their head. Their vision plays a relatively minor role in their social behavior and development; therefore it is believed that visual cues are poorly developed in pigs.

Potbellied pigs also have what some call spectral vision. They can see colors but have a hard time distinguishing adjacent spectrum colors. So, if you have on blue pants in a green yard, the pig might not be able to distinguish between your pants and the yard. However, if you had on yellow pants in a green yard it could see the difference, assuming you are not far off. This might be one reason they can be so easily startled. Sometimes we can “sneak up” on them just because of the color of clothes we are wearing. Their sight is definitely their worst sense.

Potbellies have a very keen sense of smell. They can move their snouts at will and can use them for rooting and digging. Pet pigs have the ability to sort though a bowl of food and select their favorite pieces, while leaving their least favorite behind. They can determine different odors through smelling the air. Having the ability to identify a variety of scents, some are being trained as “drug sniffing pigs” for law enforcement.