“It turns out our preference for shiny, new things is pretty universal throughout the animal kingdom. Yes, even piglets prefer new toys.”
Piglets prefer new toys, behavior study shows
In a recent study from the Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Lab at the University of Illinois, 3- and 4-week-old piglets were given dog toys to play with. Then, after a certain delay, they were given that toy again, along with a new one. Researchers wanted to see if the delay diminished the piglets’ memory of the first object.
Females and 4-week-old piglets of both sexes were a little better than males and 3-week-olds at remembering the first object, even after a two-day delay. But, for the most part, piglets made a beeline for the new toy.
The study wasn’t really about proving that piglets are capable of learning and remembering — that’s already well known…The study wasn’t about designing a new way of testing animal behavior, either; the same test has been used in rodents. The real utility of the study was the fact that the test worked for pigs. Pig brains are remarkably similar to human brains, so they are often used as model systems by neuroscientists.
Journal Reference: Stephen A. Fleming, Ryan N. Dilger. Young pigs exhibit differential exploratory behavior during novelty preference tasks in response to age, sex, and delay. Behavioural Brain Research, 2017; 321: 50