Thanks to the world of pop culture and many celebrity fans, mini pet pigs or “teacup pigs” have become popular pets. If you find yourself intrigued by the idea of a pig snoozing on your couch, you might find yourself wondering if you could handle one of your own. Of course, you’ll want to find out as much as you can about keeping a mini pet pig first.
Since you’ll be making a lifetime commitment to your new pet, you might wonder how long mini pet pigs live? Keep reading for the answer to this question as well as some key information about factors that impact the lifespan of mini pigs.
What’s the Average Lifespan of Mini Pet Pigs?
Mini pet pig breeds, such as pot-bellied pigs, generally live an average of 15-18 years, with a possible lifespan between 14-21 years. “Teacup pigs,” which are often created with unethical practices such as inbreeding and underfeeding to keep them abnormally small, will have a much shorter lifespan. Health problems caused by these practices make the average lifespan of these micro pigs closer to 5 years.
Why Do Some Mini Pet Pigs Live Longer Than Others?
True mini pigs include several breeds of pet pigs that are naturally smaller than farm pigs. Pot-bellied pigs are the most well-known of these breeds but there are about 14 others as well. With proper care (more on that in a minute!), these breeds can be expected to live a normal lifespan.
Teacup pigs are not naturally occurring breeds. Usually, these pigs are pot-bellied pigs that are deliberately underfed to keep them small or created by inbreeding or other manipulative breeding practices. Sometimes, they’re just regular pigs who’re sold as tiny piglets and labeled as teacup pigs by unethical breeders.
Unhealthy, malnourished teacup pigs won’t live as long as true mini pigs. Regular pig breeds that are sold as teacups often end up with a shorter lifespan because they grow far larger than their unsuspecting owners can manage. Sadly, these pigs often end up in shelters or worse.
Diet and nutrition are major factors that can impact a mini pig’s lifespan. Not only does the diet need to be balanced and nutritionally complete, but the amount fed also needs to be carefully calculated to avoid the pig becoming overweight.
Mini pigs are still pigs and, unsurprisingly, will happily eat much more food than they need. Obesity in pigs is just as unhealthy for them as it is for humans. Overweight pigs can also develop arthritis which can decrease their quality of life and shorten their lifespan.
The healthiest diet for a mini pig is a commercial, nutritionally balanced pellet food designed specifically for pigs. This food can be supplemented with hay, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit. Mini pigs should eat about 2% of their body weight in food daily, spread over several meals.
We already mentioned that teacup pigs are often deliberately underfed to keep them small. Unfortunately, breeders of these animals often sell them with the directions to continue the same diet in their new home. Unsuspecting owners may follow these instructions and deprive their pigs of vital nutrients in the process.
3. Environment and Conditions
Mini pet pigs can become overheated easily because they can’t sweat to cool themselves off. Heat stress and heat injury are dangerous and could shorten your pig’s lifespan.
Ideal temperature conditions for mini pigs change as they age. For example, baby pigs should be kept at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, older piglets at 84 degrees, and adults between 63-77 degrees. Mini pigs also prefer a more humid environment, 55%-70% is the ideal range.
Whether they are kept indoors or outside, mini pigs need just the right conditions to maintain health and reach their full lifespan.
Mini pigs can be housed either indoors or out so long as they have the right amount of space and room to perform instinctive behaviors like digging and rooting.
The amount of space a mini pig needs depends on how big they are. A good rule of thumb is to provide about 0.5 square feet of living space per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the pig’s body weight.
Mini pigs need environmental enrichment, a dirt space to root around, and a comfortable bed or nest area. Indoor pigs should have bedding made up of newspaper or brown paper, otherwise, they may try to tear up carpets or blankets to make their own bed. This can be dangerous because the pig may accidentally eat parts of these objects, leading to intestinal blockages.
Outdoor pigs need a shaded area both to keep them cool and also to protect them from sunburn. They will also appreciate a mud or water area to cool off in.
Mini pigs who live in dirty, crowded, or too small of housing may become stressed and develop physical and behavioral problems that could shorten their lifespan.
We already discussed the problems that abnormally small “teacup” pigs can have, leading to a much shorter lifespan than other mini pigs. Natural mini pigs have a similar lifespan no matter their size, so long as they stay at a healthy weight. Overweight mini pigs may find their lives shortened due to health problems related to obesity.
Both male and female mini pigs have similar lifespans. However, if males or females are not spayed or neutered, they are susceptible to health issues that could lead to an early demise.
Male mini pigs are prone to testicular cancer. Neutering eliminates this concern, as well as other behavioral problems such as humping and aggression, that cause problems for owners of male mini pigs.
Spaying female mini pigs reduces the risk of them developing ovarian cysts or tumors in their uterus. It also makes the pigs calmer and more mellow pets, as female minis can have significant attitude problems during their heat cycle.
7. Breeding History
The earlier a female pig is spayed, the lower her risk of developing tumors in her reproductive system. Because of this, even former breeding pigs who are then spayed could have shorter lifespans than those who never breed.
Female mini pigs can also have issues giving birth and often need to have Caesarean sections. Surgery and anesthesia are tough on mini pigs, and they can suffer complications after surgery as well.
Neglecting recommended vet checks and medical procedures can shorten a mini pig’s lifespan. Yearly veterinary exams can help ensure any health problems are caught early when they are easier to treat. Regular fecal exams, skin checks, and even blood work as they get older are also key to keeping your mini pig in tip-top shape.
Your vet may recommend your mini pig receive vaccines to protect against deadly diseases. They can also help you keep your mini pig’s tusks and hooves trimmed to avoid any issues.
Finding a vet to care for your mini pig is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your pet lives as long as possible.
The 4 Life Stages of a Mini Pig
Mini piglets are usually weaned at about 6-8 weeks. Males and females can reach sexual maturity anywhere from 3-6 months. Unethical breeders take advantage of this fact by breeding piglets and telling unsuspecting mini-pig buyers that their pig will only grow as big as their parents.
The truth is, mini pigs continue growing for many years before they reach their full size.
Mini pigs reach about half of their full size by the time they are a year old. They continue to grow until they are about 3-5 years old. Generally, they reach their full height by 3 years but can continue to get heavier until they’re 5 years old.
The slow growth rate of mini pigs is what allows dishonest breeders to continue misleading buyers about how big their minis will be when they grow. It also results in many mini pigs ending up homeless or worse when owners who were expecting a 20-pound pig wind up with a full-grown pet who’s 10 times that size!
Generally, this is the time between when the mini pig reaches full size and when they are considered senior pigs at about 10 years old. The mini pig is done growing and is ready to enjoy adult life!
Mini pigs older than 10 are considered seniors. Senior pigs can start developing arthritis, dental disease, hoof problems, or problems with their kidneys or liver. Regular vet care is extra important as your mini pig ages into a senior adult.
How To Tell Your Mini Pet Pig’s Age
As you can see, it can be tough to guess the age of a mini pig based simply on size and weight. Mini pigs grow at different rates based on such factors as breed and nutrition.
Checking a mini pig’s teeth is one way of estimating their age. Different types of teeth appear at different ages and the teeth become more worn as the mini pig gets older.
A mini pig’s hooves also become more worn as they get older, although the amount of wear can vary widely, making this a less accurate way to estimate age. Older pigs can get looser skin and are usually less active. Again, these signs won’t necessarily give you an accurate age but more a guess of the general life stage of the mini pig.
The most accurate way to tell the age of a pig is through documentation, such as vet records. If you’re adopting a mini pig rather than buying (please do!), ask if the previous owners kept records that they passed on to the rescue group.
Before buying a mini pet pig, make sure you are proceeding as an informed buyer. Don’t be fooled by terms like “teacup,” “micro” or “nano” pig. These names are misleading and the practices involved in breeding the pigs can be cruel.
If you find a responsible breeder and are prepared to care for a mini pig, remember they could live as long as 20 years. Mini pig ownership is a long-term commitment and one that, unfortunately, many people aren’t prepared for.
- See also: Juliana Pigs
Featured Image Credit: Joe Herlong, Shutterstock