Some wild boars have been observed cleaning their food before eating it, bringing new meaning to the phrase “eating like a pig.”
After an employee at Switzerland’s Basel Zoo happened to observe several wild boars washing chunks of apples in a nearby stream before eating them, researchers at the University College London conducted follow-up experiments on the same sample of pigs.
“Here, all adult pigs and some juveniles of a newly formed group carried apple halves soiled with sand to the edge of a creek running through their enclosure where they put the fruits in the water, and pushed them to and fro with their snouts before eating,” the researchers wrote in a new study, published in the Animal Cognition journal. “Clean apple halves were never washed.”
This behavior suggests that pigs are able to note the difference between clean and dirty foods, and are aware of the utility of transporting foods to a water source in order to be cleaned.
The study also suggests that, like humans, some animals may grasp the idea that a little prep is necessary to make certain foods taste their best.