Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 9-15

First online:

Armed sibling rivalry among suckling piglets

  • David FraserAffiliated withAnimal Research Centre
  • , B. K. ThompsonAffiliated withResearch Program Service

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A piglet's most precious possession Is the teat that he fattens his flesh on. He fights for his teat with tenacity Against any sibling's audacity. The piglet, to arm for this mission, Is born with a warlike dentition Of eight tiny tusks, sharp as sabres, Which help in impressing the neighbors; But to render these weapons less harrowing, Most farmers remove them at farrowing. We studied pig sisters and brothers When some had their teeth, but not others. We found that when siblings aren't many, The weapons help little if any, But when there are many per litter, The teeth help their owners grow fitter. But how did selection begin To make weapons to use against kin?