Miniature pigs are experiencing a dramatic upswing in popularity. Everybody loves their adorable tiny snouts and their lovable personalities. However, is owning a mini pig everything that it seems cracked up to be?
In this article, we talk about the pros and cons of mini pigs as pets and the things that you should know before adopting one of your own.
1. Mini pigs don’t stay mini.
The first and probably the most critical aspect of owning a mini pig is that they won’t stay “mini,” and it is not necessarily a good thing if they do. Whenever we see pictures of the tiny creatures on Instagram, they might melt our hearts. However, it is quite an unfortunate trend for pigs.
A teacup pig is not a specific breed or name for a pig. Instead, breeders call a pig a “teacup” size when potbellied pigs have had their growth stunted so they will only become tiny. That is generally done by starving them when they are young, so they will be very small when they grow older. The primary issue with this is that their internal organs often grow to their adult size either way and lead to deformities as the pigs age.
Obviously, that type of size manipulation is terrible for their health. It is also done by inbreeding pigs to get a smaller and smaller stature. As anyone in the pet world knows, this decreases their gene pool and can lead to hosts of health issues each progressing generation.
The last option when it comes to adopting a mini pig is pure deception. Those who market and sell teacup pigs will often do so by selling the piglets and telling you that they are adults. They might even show you the parent pigs, which will also be relatively small.
The issue with that is pigs can be bred starting from only 3 months of age, when they are not even fully grown, giving you a deceptively small parent for the genetics that are actually present.
Potbellied pigs are among the smallest pigs that you will find on a farm. However, they will still weigh 100 to 200 pounds, even if other pig breeds commonly weigh in at 1,000 or more. That is still a far cry from the tiny pig that you might expect to fit into a teacup for years to come.
The saddest part of all of this is that when people find out that their pig is not what they thought, they quickly abandon the not-so-little animal. Most people end up giving up a pet pig within the first two years of ownership.
2. Mini pigs can be a long-term commitment.
If you decide to adopt a Miniature pig, anyway, there are plenty of other considerations to keep in mind. Many people adopt a miniature pig because of their “Aw” factor. They are adorable when they are so tiny, and the impulse to adopt one of them can be intense.
You have to keep in mind that pigs are a much longer commitment than many other pets. A cat might only live for an average of 10 years and a dog from about 10 to 13 years. Pigs live an average of 12 to 18 years.
The exceptions to this can be miniature pigs, though. If they were starved when they were younger or are part of a long line of inbreeding, they often have so many health issues that they will die young. They commonly live around 5 years if they have been a victim of this treatment.
If they haven’t experienced any of this, you will likely have a much bigger pig on your hands as they age. They are also quite likely to be around for a much longer time.
3. Pigs are not dogs.
Adopting a pig as a pet is not like adopting any other animal. When you adopt a cat, you don’t expect them to behave like dogs and vice versa. Pigs have their own characteristics and personalities.
Pigs have not been bred to make good pets, like cats and dogs. They are not as accustomed to being handled, and they don’t have in-built genetics telling them that for the most part, humans are their friends.
Instead, when you adopt a pig, be prepared to put plenty of work into bonding with them. They will often hide from you for the first couple of days and won’t want to be snuggled right away. Allow them plenty of alone time and private space, giving them an area to themselves that they can start to consider their home.
Pigs are also hierarchical animals. They can often be aggressive because of this, pushing you around if they don’t feel like you are the pack leader. It is essential to establish the hierarchy in your home, or they will end up biting, nipping, or head butting you to push you into doing what they want.
4. Pigs love food.
“You eat like a pig” is a saying for a reason. They love food and will do almost anything to get their little hooves on some.
They are similar to other animals that become quickly accustomed to a routine. If they believe that it is time to get fed or they are hungry, they will be quite vocal about it, standing by their food bowl until you put something inside it.
The upside to this food-centric way of thinking is the convenience it brings to training. They will do anything to get treats. You can train them to walk with you off-leash, and even if they start wandering away, you can keep extra treats in your pocket, and they will run to you.
You might think that getting a miniature pig means that you can keep them in a miniature amount of space. However, this goes against their very nature. Pigs are natural foragers, even if domesticated breeds haven’t had to resort to foraging to survive for many years. They want time to sniff around and explore, and plenty of this time has to be outside. It is not negotiable and should be taken into consideration when you adopt one.
The other important factor for their health is time just to be a pig. After a while, they will get used to being around humans. They enjoy their bonding time with belly rubs and treats, but they won’t ever end up believing that they are humans, unlike other pets. They need piggy time, and many successful pig owners know at least two pig friends for their pig to frequently visit.
6. Pigs are brilliant (and quirky) animals.
Many people think that pigs are dirty and dumb. However, the reason they love the mud is because of their inability to sweat. They can’t rid themselves of excessive heat and must find shade and a mudbath to protect their skin from the harsh sun.
They are also one of the few animals that, both wild and domesticated, will make their own bathroom space. Many farmers that keep pigs or those who have pet pigs find that they are extremely easy to bathroom train because they have a natural tendency to pick a spot and stick to it. They like to be muddy but not disgusting.
Beyond having these natural inclinations, pigs are also thought to be the smartest of any other domesticated animal. Animal experts even consider them to be more trainable than both cats and dogs.
This intelligence can be a great thing when it comes to their training, but it can also be quite irritating when they turn it against you. Pigs are quite mischievous when they want something and will happily put their minds to figuring out how to get it until they have it.
7. Owning a mini pig is not always legal.
Another essential aspect to consider is whether owning a mini pig is legal in your municipality.
Pigs of any kind are still considered farm animals in most areas. There are many cities in which you cannot keep a farm animal on your property if you live within the city limits. These restrictions and owners who didn’t check them result in many miniature pigs being turned over to adoption centers shortly after picking them up from a breeder.
In fact, zoning restrictions are one of the primary reasons that mini pigs are given up to rescue shelters.
8. Pigs do not always mix with other household pets.
Although pigs are so social, they are not always a good match for a home that already houses other animals. They are hierarchical animals, and they will need to sort this out with the other animals in the home.
The other downside is that they might be considered prey animals by other pets, such as dogs, leading to dangerous situations or bullying of the pet pig.
In general, cats and pigs will live together peacefully. However, dogs and pigs can create unpredictable combinations and always need to be watched when interacting.
- You may also want to read: 16 Common Problems Encountered With Mini Pet Pigs
9. It is better to find them as a rescue pig instead of getting them from a breeder.
In the end, if you do decide that owning an adorable but somewhat persnickety pig is the pet for you, then opt to get them from a rescue shelter. There are so many shelters full of unwanted pigs, especially in larger cities where trends catch on faster and where pigs aren’t allowed.
Breeders may also be less honest than rescue shelters about their known history and previous care. Shelters can tell you how long that they have had the pig, their estimated age, and their predicted size, since they will often have vets on call.
Rescuing a pig also gives you a chance to give an unwanted animal a home. It is more satisfying and often cheaper because many breeders charge thousands of dollars to adopt a mini pig. Furthermore, you are now more educated about their care and what to expect as they continue to grow past their “mini” stage or what their health problems could be.
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Featured Image Credit: Olga_i, Shutterstock