Tusks are the canine teeth of male pigs and they start to grow when the pig reaches about three years of age. Just like the hair on your head or the nails on your fingers, the tusks on male pigs continue to grow throughout their lifetime. And, just like the hair that has grown out of your head, or the nails that have grown beyond your nailbed, a pig’s tusks have no roots or nerves so trimming them is painless. Some people confuse tusks with teeth but they are different. Unlike most mammals’ teeth, including ours, the surface of a tusk is made of dentine rather than hard enamel.
Just a trim, please!
Keeping our pigs’ tusks short and blunt is important for many reasons. First, there is the issue of safety. Left untrimmed, a male pig’s tusks are both strong and pointy, so they pose a potential risk to caregivers and other residents of the sanctuary. Even an unintentional jab with a fully grown tusk can be and lead to a serious injury. Second, tusks can actually grow into the animal’s face causing pain and, third, in some cases, tusks can grow in such a way as to hinder the full mobility of a pig’s jaw and interfere with their ability to eat properly.
Count to 10
That’s all the time it takes to trim each tusk. Although it is a painless process, it is not an activity that pigs generally enjoy so, to minimize their stress, we do all the trimming at the sanctuary ourselves. Our adult male pigs usually get their tusks trimmed every 6-12 months but we keep a close eye on them and will offer up our serves whenever it’s necessary.