By Lillian Hanson, Student Intern
Many people don't realize that when Peter Benchley originally wrote Jaws it was about a pig. OK, so that's not true at all but pig jaws are still pretty remarkable. As we move from watermelon season to pumpkin season, we thought we'd share some more information on these mighty mandibles.
To put it simply, pig jaws are STRONG! Jack and Diane can effortlessly crunch pumpkins, whole watermelons, and unripe squashes. In the summer, frozen melon treats that would send you or me to the dentist serve as a refreshing snack for our pigs to munch on. Jack, like lots of domestic pigs, has tusks that need to be trimmed regularly so they don’t pose a challenge to his ability to eat and for the safety of our volunteers that work with him.
Wild boars have been known to break human femur bones - the strongest bone in our bodies. Wild boars are of course many times larger than Jack or Diane and more aggressive than domestic pigs, but domestics and potbellies have been known to reach bite forces of 200-300 Psi (200-300 pounds of force per square inch!) and can match the bite force of large guard dog breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans.
Luckily, Diane and Jack don’t try to bite us unless we have our hands under their mouths with food. Although improving, their eyesight isn't the greatest since they have extra skin covering their eyes from their extensive period of neglect and obesity. They believe our fingers are carrots, so we make sure that each volunteer understands how powerful their bites can be and that they should never put their hand under a pig’s head or mouth.
It should also be noted that pigs can’t really bite from head-on. Since their jaws can only stretch downwards and it’s hard for them to lift their heads to eat, we only have to worry about Diane trying to nibble on our shoelaces when we clean her stall!
Here at West Place, we grow as much fresh produce as possible to feed to our rescue animals. As you might imagine, Jack and Diane consume a substantial amount each week. They even have their own refrigerator! Luckily, we have great volunteers who pick up donations from local markets, and a few local restaurants and university dining halls also donate their leftovers.
As pumpkin season approaches, be on the lookout for more videos of Jack and Diane devouring gourds and follow @westplaceanimalsanctuary on social media to learn how you can donate your pumpkins after Halloween.
You can sponsor Jack, Diane, or the pair of pigs for just $125/month. Your sponsorship covers the cost of food, more food, pig bedding, medications and veterinary visits, hoof trimming, sunscreen and other skincare needs, and other essential supplies.