WHAT THE HECK IS THAT NOISE?
One of the most frequent questions from anyone dealing with hogs for the first time is what sounds mean. It's usually a question posted on the forums by a carer mid-panic who assumes their hog is sick, in pain or dying.
Most of the sounds a hog makes, and there are a surprising number, are easily explained away and once you get used to hearing them you start to understand what they mean. However, there are still occasions where they come out with something I've never heard before and several are guaranteed to cause an instant heart attack. In an effort to prevent premature aging in the caring community, I've put together some of the most common noises for you to listen to. This is not a comprehensive list by any means but hogs being hogs, they won't oblige me with the required noise when I shove a microphone in front of them, so I'll just have to add to these as I manage to get them.
You can either click the start play button and listen to all the sounds one after the other, or click on the title of one sound to listen to that. Some are a little on the quiet side though. I've given a more detailed explanation of the noises underneath the player.
- Tiny hoglets in the nest. Eyes still closed but fed and happy.
- There are a number of different coughing noises, similar to humans. This particular cough was a dry rasping version and usually means dirty nest, too dry an atmosphere or something stuck in the throat. If you hear a prolonged smokers cough, chesty and wet, then it's more likely to be lungworm or pneumonia. If in doubt seek help.
- This was a juvenile who'd managed to get himself into a 'stuck'. He was calling for help. You will sometimes hear a similar noise from little ones in pain or hungry. They are particularly good at doing this at 3am when they feel a bit peckish and need to wake you up.
- Hogs make a whole gamut of sounds when they're asleep depending on what they're dreaming about at the time. This one seemed to be a fairly stress free dream.
- This is one seriously annoyed hog. It's usually a good idea to just leave them be unless there is a good reason to interfere. You usually hear this one if you disturb them in their nest when they want to sleep.
- This is a hoggy warning. It's usually accompanied by a head duck and a jump. He's basically trying to head butt you and stick his spines in. If you ignore this, the noise and the bucking increase until you get a raging demon and a handful of very painful holes.
- You'll hear this in your garden when two hogs meet up. I think it's a show of strength noise as the winner is usually the loudest. It's also heard a lot in mating season as the male hopefully trails the female around while she appears to tell him what she thinks of him.
- Self evident really. This noise means the hog is either terrified or in pain. This recording was actually of a pet pygmy hog, uninjured, perfectly healthy, but who seriously hated visiting the vet.
- Yes they do it as well. A word of caution with this one though, I had one hog making this noise who was dying and unable to breathe properly. It's always worth just having a quick check to see if they are actually asleep.
Other unsettling occurrences
As I said, this is not a comprehensive list of noises. I recently wandered into the hospital to be greeted by a very loud noise not unlike the warning buzzer you get when a bit of electrical equipment goes wrong, except this one was coming from one of the cages. The hog was a juvenile, curled up in bed and making a fearful racket. Having grabbed him to see what was wrong, he continued making the noise while I checked him for cuts, spine damage, broken anything... then he stopped. He never made the noise again so what the heck that was about I have no idea.
Another noise not posted above but frequently heard is rather like a heavy breather on the other end of the phone. This one is nothing to worry about as it's a warning to tell you that somebody is home, nest already occupied. Of course, none of my lot would do it when I needed to record it.
OK, let's stop pussy footing around, farting, passing wind, parping, whatever you want to call it. Hogs do that too. Again, careful with this one as it's very similar to a hog with breathing difficulties so just have a quick look to make sure they're OK.