Pigs as Pets – What You’re Not Being Told

From : https://healthypets.mercola.com/

STORY AT-A-GLANCE – By Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

  • Breeders may label their pigs mini in comparison to farm pigs, which may reach 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, but so-called teacup and micro pigs will typically reach 100-plus pounds
  • There’s no such thing as a micro pig; breeders may tell new owners to underfeed piglets to stunt their growth and keep them small
  • Some so-called micro pigs are actually commercial breeds originally intended for food and may even reach 500 pounds
  • It’s estimated that 90% of pigs adopted as pets in the U.S. end up being taken to a rescue when they become too large for their owners to handle
  • If you understand that even a “micro pig” will grow into a large animal that can easily weigh over 100 pounds, and you have the adequate space and necessary resources, adopting a pig in need of a home may be right for you

At first glance, micro or teacup pigs, which are said to be small versions of their farmyard counterparts, seem like a perfect pet. They’re undoubtedly adorable and have above-average intelligence when it comes to barnyard animals. Pigs can make excellent companions and may even be trained to go for walks, do tricks and use a litterbox or go potty outdoors.

This allure has made pigs popular pets in the U.S., especially because breeders often promise that the micro pigs will stay small. Fast-forward a few years later, however, and the owners find themselves with a pig that has kept growing and growing.

Unable to adequately handle and care for an animal that weighs hundreds of pounds, many owners surrender their “micro” pigs to rescue organizations, which are feeling the strain of the micro pig myth.

Speaking with The Guardian, Kevin Kersley, who breeds knee-height KuneKune pigs, calls micro pigs a “fallacy,” stating, “Unscrupulous people tend to breed the runts of the litter to try to decrease the size of the pig, but genetically the original size is built into the offspring, even though its parents may be small.”1

Micro Pigs Are a Myth

The idea that your tiny piglet is going to stay small or only grow to the size of a small dog is one of the greatest misconceptions surrounding pigs as pets. The California Potbellied Pig Association (CPPA) explained:

“A 60 lb. mature pig is actually very rare, despite long standing myths to the contrary. Also be aware that 100 lbs. to 150 lbs. weight is only achieved with a strict diet. A 300 lb. potbellied pig is not uncommon if it is overfed, and a 300 lb. pig could be very difficult to transport, and it will probably suffer many health problems.”2

Pig Inn Heaven, a U.K.-based pig sanctuary, explains, “A micro pig is a piglet, then it grows.”3 Sadly, breeders may even tell new owners to feed their “micro pig” only a small amount of food in order to keep it small. One woman was feeding her micro pig one-half cup of food twice a day at the breeder’s instruction, only to find it raiding the pantry and trash can. A veterinarian told her the pig was actually starving.

Further, the pig, which was supposed to grow to be only 12 inches tall, ended up reaching 20 inches tall and 180 pounds, at which point she was brought to a pig rescue, Lil’ Orphan Hammies, in California.

The problem has gotten so bad that the North American Potbellied Pig Association estimated that 90% of pigs adopted as pets in the U.S. end up being taken to a rescue.4 Sue Parkinson of Lil’ Oprhan Hammies told CBS News, “There are not enough homes out there anymore. These pigs are in big trouble.”5

Pet Pig Problems

There are other common problems with owning a pig as a pet, such as where to find veterinary care. Most cat and dog veterinarians don’t treat pigs, which may be considered farm animals, not pets. As such, you’ll need to find a veterinarian who specializes in such animals, which means you may need to travel some distance and be able to transport your very large pig for regular veterinary care.

What’s more, owning a pig may not be legal where you live, and if it is, there may be size or number restrictions. Before adding a potbellied pig to your family, check out your local (city and county) ordinances to avoid potential heartbreak.

Remember, too, that pigs are herd animals and should be adopted in pairs or more. “Never keep a pig on its own, that’s just downright cruel,” Kersley told The Guardian.6 He also recommends keeping pigs outdoors in a paddock or garden, not in your house.

Pigs are highly intelligent and inquisitive and require a great deal of mental stimulation. They can get into trouble if you don’t have a safe area from them to scamper, dig, root, forage and roam in. Likewise, without an outlet for play, exercise and emotional health, pet pigs may become depressed, destructive or aggressive. CPPA also pointed out:

“Understand that pigs are different than cats or dogs — the bonding time is different, the way they show affection is different and the engagement you will have with them is different — it’s super rewarding but it’s different.”7

Can Pigs Ever Make Good Pets?

Pigs are wonderful animals and can make great pets if you’re prepared for their size and special needs. You should not assume that any pig you adopt will stay mini. Breeders may label their pigs mini in comparison to farm pigs, which may reach 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, but so-called teacup and micro pigs will typically reach 100-plus pounds.

Those that don’t may have been underfed to stunt their growth,8 and some micro pigs are actually commercial breeds originally intended for food, and may even reach 500 pounds.9 If you’re thinking you can adopt a tiny pig that will be content to live in your apartment like a cat or small dog, a pig is definitely not the right pet for you.

However, if you understand that even a “micro pig” will grow into a large animal that can easily weigh over 100 pounds, adopting a pig in need of a home may be right for you. In this case, basic requirements of pig ownership include:10

At least 0.5 acres of land (in an area where pig ownership is legal) Outdoor housing or a shed for your pig
Access to a farm veterinarian Regular grooming, including trimming of hooves and tusks
An area of mud for your pig to wallow in Optimal food, grass for grazing, fresh fruit and vegetables
Fresh water daily Regular exercise for your pig
Spending time with the daily, as pigs are social creatures Appropriate fencing

 

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