War Elephants Were So Scary, They Created War Pigs

By Karen Harris
War elephants, equipped according to General d'Orgoni's instructions, Burma, illustration from L'Illustration, Journal Universel, No 595, Volume XXIV, July 22, 1854. Source: (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Always keen to get a leg up on the enemy, military leaders have often looked to animals to give them a wartime advantage. Horses, naturally, were trained to carry soldiers into battle. The stories of Hannibal taking war elephants over the Alps during the Second Punic War are legendary. But did you know that several other animals were also used in ancient warfare? Monkeys, dogs, rhinoceroses, and even cats were used for military purposes. It was the enormous elephants, however, that proved to be formidable---that is, until clever commanders discovered the best way to disrupt the army of elephants was with their own four-legged troops. This is the story of how war pigs were used to battle war elephants in ancient Rome. Yes, really!