Keeping A Pig As A Pet (Facts, Pros, Cons, FAQs)


Since the mid-1980s, when the potbellied pig first arrived in the United States, it has been difficult to educate doctors, pet owners, and animal sanctuaries about the specific demands and health care that these great creatures need. They are classed as exotic in most parts of the nation, and although the number of exotic veterinarians is growing, a surprising few are informed about or interested in dealing with pet small pigs.

Pet pigs are fantastic pets for the right folks, but they may be a nightmare for others. Before obtaining one, do your research on the benefits and disadvantages and make sure it is the right pet for you since it is a long-term commitment and they will rely on you. Please read the following pet pig facts and care FAQs that every future pig owner should be aware of.

Overview

What Exactly Is A Potbellied Pig?

The potbellied pig (also known as the Vietnamese Potbellied Pig or the Chinese Potbellied Pig) is one of several “miniature” pig breeds. The breed originated in Southeast Asia and was initially imported, bred, and marketed as a pet in the United States in 1985. They are little, short-legged pigs with erect ears and straight, tasseled tails. They feature a prominent “potbelly” and a swaying back.

At adulthood, they may weigh anywhere from 40-50 pounds to well over 200 pounds. They have hair with short, sharp bristles, develop longer coats in the autumn, and shed (blow) their coats in the summer. Crossbreeding with different micro pig breeds has resulted in white pigs, as well as several other black and white and even gray combinations.

What Is A Miniature Pig?

The word “miniature pig” refers to adult pigs that are “tiny.” Miniature pigs are typically one-tenth the size of a commercial farm pig. Given that full-grown farm pigs may weigh up to and even surpass 1,000 pounds, it is clear that the word “miniature” is both relative and subjective. Remember that weight isn’t always the greatest way to characterize a pig.

Pigs are strong and “hard-bodied.” It does not require a very “large” pig to weigh 100 pounds. It is typically preferable to characterize a pig in terms of size rather than weight. When dealing with novice pig owners, we often ask them to compare the size of their pig to that of a dog. Most individuals can better connect to and envision the size of a dog than a pig.

What Is A Teacup Or “Micro” Miniature Pig?

Many breeders are working feverishly to produce smaller and smaller potbellied pigs in the expectation that the lower size would attract more purchasers. We looked into and saw a lot of pigs promoted as “teacup” or “micro-mini” pigs. In almost every instance, we discovered a typical potbellied pig that had been continuously underfed and emaciated in order to keep it tiny. This information has been confirmed by many additional sanctuaries and educated pig specialists.

Inbreeding or extremely focused cross-breeding have resulted in the rare cases when a very tiny (sub 20 pound) pig has been created. These pigs are weak and ill, having a variety of health issues and relatively short life spans. To our knowledge, the teacup or micro-mini pig does not exist at this moment, nor has anybody successfully reared a healthy and normal pig of this size. We are certain, however, that breeders’ efforts to produce this extremely attractive and commercial pig will continue.

Do Miniature Pigs Make Good Pets?

Pigs are lovely and intelligent pets, but you should consider carefully before purchasing one since they may not always stay young piglets, they demand a lot of care, and they can create a major mess in the apartment when bored or left alone. The piggy spends the most of the day wondering what you can sweat, what drawer or open cabinet to open, and what to take out.

They are definitely not appropriate for tiny block dwellings. I did not discourage the purchase of pigs, but we must remember that the animal is very attached to its owner, and donating to a guilty person when we are bored or unable to care for it is damaging it and subjecting it to an unknown destiny.

What Is The Full-grown Size Of Mini Pigs?

Vietnamese pigs weighing up to 70 kg (the size of a big dog) may be bought in a variety of locations. They may be ordered from nicer pet retailers. However, keep in mind that they are much too large for a typical apartment and would be more appropriate for a home with a garden.

Micro-pigs weighing about 20 kg are much more costly. Mature micro pigs reach a height of 48 cm, and multiple breeders and customers have informed me that this is the smallest size they’ve ever seen.

How Long Does It Take For A Baby Pig To Grow To Full Size?

Pigs grow until they are 3 years old.

How Can I Be Sure Of How Big A Piglet Will Get?

You can’t be sure and if the size is a factor then a miniature pig is not for you. Consider getting a dog or cat.

How Long Do Micro Pigs Live?

A miniature pig’s life expectancy is twelve and fifteen years.

Male Vs Female Micro Pigs As Pets?

All my male pigs are desexed by the vet at 6 weeks old and ready to go to their new homes a couple of days later. My female pigs are desexed around 8 weeks of age(depending on their size) and go to their new homes 2 weeks later.

I do not believe there is any difference between a little girl or boy pig when they are desexed. Having them desexed makes them a constant loving, gentle pet. I have both desexed boys and girls that are a few years old that I have kept monitoring their behavior.

What Are The Different Colors Of Mini Pigs?

Oh, how do I start? Several common patterns are stripes and spotted ones. Colors include; apricots, gingers, tans, browns, blacks, and whites.

How Old Does A Female Pig Have To Be To Breed?

I will not start breeding any of my females until they are at least 15 months old. I have heard and seen other breeders breeding with females as young as 7 months. This is detrimental to their health and to the unborn babies.

How Many Litters Can A Pig Have Per Year?

A pig can have 2 and a half litters per year but mine usually have 1 and a half a year.

Can You Bottle Feed A Mini Pig?

I do not see any reason to take a baby from its mother to feed it a bottle. You don’t do this with a pup or any other animal and mum’s milk is always the best.

Weaning Piglets: When Do Piglets Start Eating Solid Food?

My baby pigs are weaned when they are 4-5 weeks old.

What To Feed A Mini Pig?

My mini pigs are fed a mixture of grass, vegetables, and mixed grain which is required to keep them healthy, happy, small, and very healthy litters of babies.

A pig needs a well-balanced diet. This includes:

  • Vegetables (No corn, potatoes or peas) and only a little fruit as treat, never banana or avocado
  • You can feed your baby an 18% protein DRY dog food up till your baby is 3 months old only never tin dog or cat food
  • Good quality, low protein, low fat, mix grain
  • Fresh grass
  • Constant supply of fresh water

You don’t feed mini pigs grain that is produced for large piggeries that are breeding their pigs for the table. You also don’t feed them any type of meat, sugary fruit, bread, or any other processed food.
You don’t starve pigs to keep them small this is very cruel.

What Not To Feed Mini Pigs?

  • Meat of any description including fish, poultry, cattle, sheep and any processed meat
  • Pig pellets or food make for pigs ( these are designed to put size and weight on fast)
  • Tin dog and cat food
  • Rice or pasta
  • Dairy products
  • Bread
  • Cakes and any sweet things
  • Chook food and never allow them to eat poultry droppings or eggs

What Animals Can Live With Pet Pigs?

Pigs are very sociable animals. They will live quite happily with any other pets you may have. Mine live with cattle, horses, dogs, sheep, alpacas, and poultry.

How To Take Care Of Mini Pigs When You First Take Them Home?

I propose that you confine him/her to a small, warm, and quiet space where he/she can adjust to the new environment, odors, other dogs, and humans. For the first few days, pat him/her as he/she is eating and gradually expose him/her to the rest of the family.
Sit on the floor with your baby, feed her/him some fruit, and let him to approach you.

How To Prepare Home For Pet Pigs?

This will all depend on whether you want your new pet to reside indoors or outdoors. If you wish him/her to reside in the home, allow him/her to go outdoors via a doggie door or something similar. If you want to keep your new pet outdoors, he or she will need a spacious run with a comfortable shelter from the weather. For their bedding, you may use blankets or straws.
They MUST be kept warm throughout the winter and cold during the summer. A small pig cannot live in a condo or apartment.

Do Pigs Need Special Bedding?

All pigs need some kind of bedding. They need hay or straw if they are outdoors, and blankets if they are inside. They like making their beds and will sometimes shred them, so shop at yard sales and thrift shops. Just be sure to wash these objects before putting them in the pig’s bed.

Do I Need A Fenced Yard For My Pig?

Fenced backyards are encouraged so that the pig may get some much-needed outdoor time. If not, you should have a separate pen for them. A simple enclosure may be made using “hog panels,” which come in 16-foot pieces, and four of these will provide a good-sized corral for one or two pigs to laze about in. Don’t forget that they’ll need some kind of shelter to keep out of the elements including rain, sun, and snow.

All pigs need time outdoors. It’s time to be a pig and root and sunbathe. The vitamin D they get from the sun is beneficial to their skin. Just make sure they don’t get sunburned. Sunburn is more common in white pigs than in black pigs. Make sure they have protection and shade if they are outdoors, and don’t forget the pool. To be healthy, they need activity and the ability to graze. If you don’t have a yard for them to graze on, walks in parks are ideal.

Can Micro Pigs Be House Trained?

You can simply teach your pig since they use the same potty every time. The pig goes to the bathroom in a cat litter pan, newspaper, or by taking their droppings outdoors and displaying them outside. My infants have newspapers in the cubby house where they are imprisoned every night, and they always use paper to go to the bathroom.

Can Miniature Pigs Climb Stairs?

Yes, but keep in mind that their bodies are not the same as dogs’, and as they age, it becomes more difficult for them to climb stairs. Also, keep in mind that a single fall might result in a broken leg. The steps should be carpeted or rubberized to prevent slipping.

Use a reward they really like and position it on the stairs so they have to climb to obtain it to teach them to do the stairs. If they’re going up, stand behind them in case they feel terrified or start to tumble, and in front if they’re going down. One individual I know trains them with cheese in approximately five minutes.

Can You Use A Harness On A Pig For A Walk?

Pigs like taking walks. It’s also a lot of fun to observe other people’s responses. To do this, place the harness on the pig and let him go about for a few hours while you keep a watch on him.

The next stage is to connect the leash and let him to walk with it while keeping an eye on him. You will be able to train him to walk with the lead after he has become used to wearing it.

Can You Bathe A Mini Pig?

Yes, a pig can be bathed and I feel the best way for small ones is in a baby bath that has lukewarm water and wool wash. And rinse them off in lukewarm water.

Can Pet Pigs Get Sunburned?

This is a very commonly asked question. I find that if they have shelter to get away from the elements and they have mud to roll in, it will not be an issue, even for white pigs as this is their natural way to protect themselves from the sun.

Do Pet Pigs Need Worming?

Yes, pigs do need worming on a regular basis. Your vet will supply medication, which can be added to their food.

To Spay Or Not To Spay?

To spay or not to spay?—-that is the question. 

Actually, it isn’t. Veterinarians are usually the first to advocate for the spaying and neutering of pets, including potbellied pigs. The removal of the uterus and ovaries is typically justified by improved temperament, reducing the likelihood of unwanted and mistreated piglets, and lowering the risk of uterine infections and cancer. In intact potbellied sows, massive ovarian cysts and other aberrant growths have been documented.

How Is A Pig With A Broken Leg Able To Function And Also Are There Different Levels Of Pain Management Like In Humans?

I am always astounded by the horrific injuries and diseases that I have witnessed animals recover from with little or no assistance from humans. Their seeming stoicism in the face of enormous agony is most likely the source of the long-held misconception that many animals do not experience pain and do not need painkillers. However, it is an inherent, defensive mechanism for animals to conceal their disease or discomfort in order to avoid attracting the attention of predators. Fortunately, we now have a considerably greater grasp of animal (and human) physiology than ever before, because to the massive increase of medical knowledge over the previous several decades.

Although animals may not react to pain in the same way that humans do, it should come as no surprise that they do! Pain treatment regimens for animals have been devised, however they may not yet be widely used. Unfortunately, some of the most effective pain relievers are narcotics. The time-consuming documentation necessary to store and utilize drugs prevents many small business owners, such as veterinarians, from utilizing them as often as they would want in their practice.

I advise pet owners to be conscious that animals do not have the same emotional response to injury or impairment that humans have. It is instinctive for them to cope with disappointments and “get on with the business of life.” Witnessing something like this should encourage us all.

Do Pigs Require A Lot Of Medical Care?

In general, healthy pigs do not need much medical attention. However, there are several medical concerns you should be aware of BEFORE purchasing a pig…

For health reasons and to make better pets, potbellied pigs should be spayed/neutered while they are young. Even older pigs may be spayed/neutered if the treatment is done by a qualified veterinarian. They should also undergo annual exams with a competent veterinarian, which should include foot and tusk trimming (unless you learn to do these yourself). Pigs should be wormed with Ivermectin or Dectomax twice a year. Both are injectables that you may administer yourself or have your veterinarian administer. If necessary, both may be administered orally.

Any pig entering a shelter should be wormed and inspected for lice. It is fairly uncommon for a pig to get lice if it has lived in a filthy environment.

How Much Do Baby Pigs Cost As Pets?

It is thought that the more a mini-pig costs, the less likely it is to grow into an adult. I’m not sure whether there’s any truth to it. Prices for tiny pigs have ranged from $500 to $3500.

I do not advocate purchasing a cult from an unknown private individual via an advertising. You have no idea what sort of pig you will receive since they are all little and cute when they are young. You also have no idea how healthy the pig is or where it came from.

We spent $3500 for our micro pig plus $200 for a veterinarian’s castration and control.

Breeders, in my opinion, should pay a premium for their cubs. They weed out dishonest customers who, for example, wish to offer the pig as a present to someone who may not want the pig at all. Unfortunately, in such circumstances, it often results in killing or relocation. If you are absolutely certain that you want a pig, you pay the breeder’s asking price, as long as it is acceptable.

It is not expensive to keep a small pig. We purchase cat litter, dog poop bags, and treat food. There won’t be much money, particularly because my tiny pig loves to do his business outdoors in the spring and summer. When he uses the litter box more in the winter, rubbish collection and sand are more expensive. If you feed your pig special mini-pig feed, it will be more costly than if you feed “compost food,” as we do. More information may be found under food!

Do You Need Council Permission To Keep A Pet Mini Pig On A Residential Home?

I discovered that each municipality has its own set of restrictions for maintaining a desexed pet micro pig. Some authorities feel that if you can maintain a dog, you can have a pet mini pig. After one of their councilors spent Christmas with some folks in New South Wales who had one of my mini pigs, I convinced one council in South Australia to amend their laws to enable people to have a pet mini pig.

In another situation in Victoria, one council said no to a woman, while another council one block away said you may retain one.

Many councils, I suppose, are unaware that a truly little pig exists. I recommend that you inquire about the judgements of your council.

How To Choose The Right Pet Pig Breeder?

A competent breeder chooses pigs based on their size, temperament, and personality. I’ve bred them for up to eight generations, and each generation has become much smaller.

The Australian quarantine authorities will not let any sort of pig into the country. For years, reputable breeders have used selective breeding.
Some states in Australia have strict quarantine rules that require pigs to undergo up to three vet inspections.

You should receive these if you are buying a pet pig in Australia

  • The compulsory PigPass that every pig in Australia must have when sold.
  • The compulsory ear tag that is required for every pig that is sold in Australia
  • The Birth Certificate with the baby’s photo, you can change your baby’s name.
  • De-sexing Certificate.
  • Worming certificate
  • Care information Booklet
  • The compulsory Quarantine paperwork for some states of Australia.

Please note there are no teacup, micro, potbelly pigs in Australia, there never has been and never will be with our quarantine laws.

Should I Buy From A Breeder Or Adopt My Pig From A Rescue Group Or Sanctuary?

Depends on what you are looking for. If you just want a pet pig, then you should consider adopting from a rescue group or sanctuary. If you want to show for conformation, then you may want to speak with a breeder and buy one that is registered in lineage. If you choose to adopt or buy, just be sure you have done your homework first.

Should I Adopt/purchase A Piglet Or A Full-grown Pig?

There are pros and cons to both options.  With a piglet, you have the joy and pleasure of raising the piglet and enjoying it as it goes through the growth and bonding process with you.  Baby pigs can be a source of unspeakable joy and laughter.  Unfortunately, you have no idea if the piglet has a medical condition or abnormality that may not manifest itself until later in the pig’s life. 

You also have no idea how big this little piglet is going to get.  Being able to see one or more of the parents is helpful, but not always a reliable gauge as to how large the piglet will be at maturity.  Many people deem these to be acceptable risks and prefer a piglet or very young pig.  Ensure that the piglet has been properly weaned and not weaned too early.  Piglets that are bottle-raised or taken from their mother too early can have behavioral and/or medical problems later on in life as they get a lot of their “pig social skills” from being raised in a litter.  They also get a lot of their natural immunities from their mother’s milk. 

The normal weaning time for a healthy piglet is 6-10 weeks with 8 weeks being an average.  All piglets should be vaccinated at about 4 weeks and males should be neutered at least two weeks before purchase/adoption.  Females may be too young to be safely spayed at purchase/adoption so that may be your responsibility if you opt for a female piglet.  The breeder or sanctuary staff should have accomplished at least some basic socialization of the piglet so it is at least used to being handled and will not squeal to the point of dangerously stressing the piglet.

With an adult pig, you obviously forego the raising of the piglet into an adult pig.  But you get to see a more mature pig and can better judge how social and friendly the pig is before you obtain it.  There are many loving, social, and affectionate young and even mature pigs available that were rescued due to circumstances beyond the pig’s control who crave a good home and who make excellent pets.  As with piglets, you should be guaranteed in writing that vaccinations/wormings are current and that the pig is sound and healthy. 

If the pig was raised as a “pet pig” and the pig was not abused, many sanctuaries are only too happy to be able to place an older pig back into a family environment similar to the one it was raised in.  Many former pet pigs have a very difficult time when placed in a sanctuary environment as they have never been socialized to living life as a pig in a herd of other pigs.  Adjustment to this life coupled with the grief of losing its lifetime family can cause serious emotional trauma for the rescued pet pig.   Adopting a mature pig that desperately needs a home can be a very rewarding experience for you and very good for a lonely and unhappy little pig.

Why Do Pigs Dig Holes?

A pig’s natural instinct is to dig but they can be trained to have their own special area for digging. While I have said in the past that putting a nose ring on a pig must hurt and take its natural instincts away, I have found by experience that if the nose ring is fitted by a qualified veterinarian, your pig will not suffer in any way and it still enjoys grazing, keeping everybody happy.

Is It True Pet Pigs Can Become Aggressive?

To understand why the term aggression doesn’t fit our pet pig, we have to understand the pig. We have to get to know and appreciate where the pig is coming from with his attitude. Pigs are herd animals and within each herd is a hierarchy or pecking order. If you watch the movie, “The Joy of Pigs,” you will note that in herds a female will rule most of the time. You will also learn that when the “alpha pig” gets older and/or sick, they will lose their place and move down in the hierarchy. Each place within that order has to be earned and then protected, or else it changes. Once pigs have set the order they live happy and contented lives and will follow the leader and those above them.

Now we bring these pigs into our homes and change their whole environment. We actually become their herd and if we are not careful they will take over as the “top hog” and they will act out within that order. This is especially true of pigs that are loners within the home. Usually, if there is a second pig or more, they will settle the hierarchy among themselves, leaving humans to be humans. It is why we advocate that new pig owners adopt two pigs in a relatively close time.

 Now a person who understands the hierarchy in pigs will hold his place as a human and place the pig as a pig. This order has to be set and maintained from the very beginning. It is for this reason that we suggest to pig owners that they train their pigs to do simple tricks. It’s not for the fun of it but rather that the pig learns to obey and realizes the human is in complete control. Once the pig learns this, he is a well-adjusted and happy pet to live with. This means never letting him tell you when he wants to eat, sleep or that he doesn’t want strangers in HIS home.

Another reason for a pig to act aggressively is because of the pig’s strong emotional being. He is an animal that likes consistency and he does not like change. So when a pig has lived in a home environment and then discarded, he becomes scared and confused and very fearful. In rescuing pigs we see two things happen to pigs that are discarded. They become angry and/or depressed and sometimes both simultaneously.

Even pigs that have come out of abusive homes, still don’t like the change. He may have been abused, but it was the only home and family he knew. Most of the time with a lot of tender loving care, the pig can be turned around. Some just take longer than others. But does this mean we want to label them as aggressive? If we do, then we have placed the label on all of them and in the end, more harm will have been done to a much-loved pet.

Richard & Laura Hoyle of Mini-Pigs, Inc. said, “In 15 years we have never seen an aggressive pig. Yes, we have seen scared pigs, abused pigs, spoiled pigs, and emotionally/physically deprived pigs, but never one that was purely ‘aggressive’.

“Pigs react to their environment and to things that they perceive as threats. This is not aggression and always has a root cause somewhere. Especially in rescues we often do not know much, if anything at all, about the pig’s history or past life. It would be easy to write off biting, head swinging, and butting as ‘aggression’, but it is not that simple.

“Over the years we have learned, more and more, to look at things from a pig’s perspective. We call it ‘learning to think like a pig.’ If you take the time to watch, listen and learn from the pigs in your care, you will slowly begin to understand how a pig thinks – and what it is and is not capable of. One of the things they are not capable of is ‘aggression’ – especially not the way you have it defined.

“We have a number of pigs here that get along beautifully in their herds and in a pig environment but who are still ‘aggressive’ towards humans. The answer here is simple, the pig was badly abused by humans and sees all humans as a threat and reacts accordingly. Some of these pigs will ‘come around’ over time and others will not – but they are not aggressive pigs – just pigs reacting to years of abuse at the hands of their human ‘caretakers’.”

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