A snout is the protruding portion of an animal’s face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw. In many animals, the equivalent structure is called a muzzle, rostrum, or proboscis.
A pig’s snout allows pigs who have heightened senses to navigate and interact with the environment. The snout is especially designed for digging the ground in search of food. Under normal conditions, pigs may spend 75% of their daily activities engaged in rooting and searching for up to 6-8 hours a day. Pigs’ outdoor time can prevent boredom in pigs and provide hours of adventure and fun!
The nasal disc on a pig’s snout, is hard enough to be used for digging and has numerous sensory receptors. In addition to its usefulness as a fine and powerful tool for manipulating objects, the extensive motility in the snout provides pigs with a very well-developed sense of smell.
Olfactory signals, indeed play an important role in communication, and pigs can communicate by releasing chemicals in their saliva and urine called pheromones. In an impressive example of symbiosis and interspecies communication, truffles developed the capacity to produce an allomone that resembles boar testosterone. The sow, upon finding the scent, uses her unique snout to fish out the truffle, thereby disseminating its fungal spores and enjoying a treat for all her hard work.
Pigs can also use odor from urine and the facial glands to identify other pigs, and even pigs who are unable to see are able to recognize other individuals in their group, indicating the strength of their other senses. Effluvium plays an important role in a sow’s maternal behavior, for example, helping to form strong bonds with her offspring.
Pigs also communicate by scent-marking prominent features in their home ranges. As they are not very territorial, however, the purpose of scent-marking might be to establish group orderliness, rather than to mark territory.