Pigs Eat Humans Far More Often Than People Would Expect

Pigs and hogs are many things: Evidence suggests they are as smart as a dog or a cat, or even a 3-year-old human child, as the Humane Society writes. Pigs are also quite loyal, according to Texas A&M University. But are pigs stone-cold killers? Nah, pigs are mostly gentle and loving. That said, feral swine can be aggressive, and domestic pigs do sometimes attack their owners (via Slate) — for example, in 2015, a farmer did reportedly die from blood loss due to pig bites, according to Canadian news outlet Everything Grand Prairie.

While cattle-caused fatalities are tracked, how often farmyard hogs kill is uncertain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pigs are voracious eaters, though, that will consume almost anything they get their snouts on, per The Pig Site, which can be as much as seven pounds of food each day. What that means is, if an unfortunate pig farmer should collapse and die, or otherwise become immobilized in the vicinity of their pigs, those pigs might eat them — or well, almost all of them — and this happens much more often than you might think.

An Oregon farmer was eaten by pigs in 2012

Exactly how often pigs and hogs eat their owners is unknown, but there are several documented cases of it happening. There's also no way to know for certain if the pigs might have attacked and then killed the person before consuming them. Sometimes weighing as much as 770 pounds, a farmyard pig overcoming and killing a human is not out of the question. But in most cases, it's thought the person likely experienced a medical emergency and died in the pig enclosure, after which time the pigs consumed them, or were otherwise intentionally fed to the animals.

An urgent medical emergency is likely what happened in 2012 when an Oregon farmer named Terry Vance Garner was eaten by his pigs. All that was left were Garner's dentures and a few assorted body parts, BBC News reports. One year later, in 2013, a mob boss was fed to the pigs by his rivals, reportedly while he was still alive, and in 2014, a 2-year-old Chinese child was tragically killed and eaten by an over-protective sow, according to the Daily Mail. That capacity for pigs to make (almost) all of a human body disappear has not gone unnoticed by criminals. In 2003, two Michigan residents were convicted of double murder. Their victim's bodies were never found, and it's believed that hogs ate them.

Pigs can't eat hair, teeth, or larger human bones

While pigs and hogs are apparently a good way to get rid of a body — Oregonian Susan Monica was sentenced to life in prison for killing two men and feeding them to pigs — they won't eat everything. Hair, teeth, and larger human bones are off the menu. That won't stop a swine from crunching and grinding a larger bone down to something more manageable, though. One truly tragic instance of pig-eats-human came in 2017 when an abused 7-year-old boy in Missouri was killed by his stepmother and father before the young child's body was fed to pigs, NBC News reports.

In 2019, another sad incident happened in Russia, when a woman collapsed and was eaten by pigs after experiencing an epileptic seizure (via Newsweek). What might make a pig kill for thirst for blood? Simple curiosity, according to one Canadian pig farmer named Ian Smith, speaking with CBC News. In 2012. Smith said: "[I]f I ever had a heart attack or passed out among these pigs ... they are just playing with you at first. But once they drew blood from you, you would be like shark bait." It's the taste of blood that's the trigger, Smith said, and pigs are otherwise very inquisitive, he added. Still, "[Pigs] aren't out to hurt you. You just have to pay them the right amount of respect," Smith said.