What is a MINI-PIG?

Frequently asked question banner with black piglet

Frequently Asked Questions


A mini pig is a classification of domestic pig (typically a potbellied pig) that ranges between 80-300lbs. They are considered “mini” because they are smaller than a typical farm hog, which can weigh 400-1000+ lbs. No matter what a breeder says, there is no 100% accurate way to predict what the full grown size of a pig might be. If you have a size restriction then a pig may not be the right pet for you. Pigs live up to 20 years and are a long-term commitment as a pet. Keep the long life span in mind when purchasing for a child; for example, a 12 year old who wants a pet pig may be off to college in 6 to 7 years, starting their own family, or moving out into a location that cannot support a pet pig. As such, when you buy a pig for your child, you may be committing to keeping that pig yourself for up to 20 years. With this time commitment, your child could very well be in their mid-thirties, with their own children, wanting a pet pig like their grandparents.

I am one of those grandparents, and personally believe a pig is a good pet for me now, but would not have been feasible as a young parent.

three cute potbelly mix piglets
Potbelly mix piglets at 3-4 weeks old


" Pigs live up to 20 years and are a long-term commitment as a pet."




What about those pigs that stay really small?


Unfortunately, this is one of the most common myths about pet pigs. Breeders are trying to make their product appealing so they often lie about the size a pig will get to sell more pigs; they typically say their pigs will stay between 20-40lbs. Breeders will claim that their pigs are different or will stay small if kept to a “special diet”, which simply isn’t true. Their pigs are the same as every other mini pig and that “special diet” often means feeding a pig tiny amounts of food to keep it small. Pigs kept on a severely restricted diet are malnourished and can develop health problems, often dying after only a few years. Pigs can begin breeding at 6 months of age but will not reach their full size until 3-5 years old, so be aware that the “fully grown” parents you might see at a breeder’s home may actually be young piglets, not adults (a well fed pot belly pig will only be 40-50 lbs. at 6 months old). Pigs that get bigger than expected are often given away by their families; only 2-5% of people that buy a pet pig keep it. If you have a size limit, then a pig is not be the right pet for you.

What do pigs eat?

pink mini pig and carrot
Buttercup will not wake up for carrots!

The joke is that pigs eat anything, but in truth, they have a very specific diet to stay healthy. Mini pig food is available from multiple companies and some are better than others. Pigs actually eat very little; mine eat only two cups of feed per day, not including snacks. Snacks are a must and include: whole grain treats such as Cheerios, lots of fresh fruits (cut out seeds in apples and stone fruits) and vegetables (broccoli and spinach are favorites), and high probiotic foods such as Greek yogurt or milk kefir help digestion. Pigs can develop salt poisoning, so keep them out of your food; do not let them clean your plate. Iron deficiency is an issue if pigs are unable to root and eat dirt that is high in iron. Give them lots of high iron foods like spinach and oat based snacks (Cheerios); children’s chewable multi-vitamins, capsulated fish oil, and coconut oil can be supplemented as well. Do not let your pig overeat; an obese pig is a miserable pig. They have issues moving around, can develop pain in joints and muscles, fatty eyelids which can obscure eyesight, fat bellies and necks that make it hard to breathe correctly.


"Pigs can develop salt poisoning, so keep them out of your food"


Aren’t pigs cleaner than dogs?

spotted potbelly pig in the mud
Daisy sunning in the mud puddle

Yes and no. Pigs are extremely clean in their bathroom habits and prefer to only go in one area that is far away from where they eat or sleep. Pigs can easily be house broken or litterbox trained, but do not have complete control of their bladders until they are 6 months old. Accidents happen. Pigs also spend most of their time digging in the dirt or cooling off in mud so they do get very dirty. Remember, pigs can not sweat so to cool off they have to role in mud. Pigs also sunburn easily, Mud is a natural sun screen. If you have a pig in and out of your house, you can expect dirt on your baseboards and muddy snout prints all over! Blessedly, most pigs love to be groomed and brushed so they can be cleaned up easily.

young Potbelly pig in a pet bed
Young Daisy in the cats bed


How will a pig get along with my other pets?


Pigs and cats can actually get along well in most cases, and pigs do well in a farm setting. However, extreme caution must be used with pigs and dogs. Pigs and dogs do not communicate the same way, and pigs can be very pushy, causing even the best-behaved dog to snap at them. As pigs are prey animals they do not have a way to defend themselves and generally come off worse in a fight. Dogs are also predatory animals and can see pigs as something to chase or attack. Dogs and pigs must always be supervised when together and should be securely separated when unattended.

Can I have a pig in the house?

spotted potbelly pig in a kids playhouse
Daisy in the "pig house"

First you need to make sure pigs are allowed in your area. Pigs may be classified as livestock in your zone and not allowed. You will need to check for restrictions in your city. Many Home Owner Associations also do not allow pigs, so if you have an HOA you will need to check that too. DO NOT get a pig if your city or HOA does not allow it. You cannot hide a pig; they are loud animals. Many families who have not properly checked restrictions have been forced to give up their pet pigs, which is extremely hard on both the family and the pet. Pigs need a lot of outdoor time and space and do not do well in apartments.


Space


Pigs do best with a lot of outside time. They will need a safe, secure space in which to root and play. They will also need to be provided with shelter from the elements. Always have fresh water available and have a pool or wallow in the summer to help them stay cool. Pigs are tough on a yard and will tear up the grass and soil while rooting.

pink pig in dress on a leash
Young Buttercup in a dress at the farmers market

Behavior: “Aren’t pigs really smart?”


Pigs are not people pleasers; they are pig pleasers! As pigs are highly intelligent animals, they know that they do not always need to listen to their owners (think of a smart, manipulative toddler). They require consistent firm leadership and an extreme amount of patience. Nothing with a pig happens quickly; everything must be at their pace. Pigs can develop behavioral issues such as biting or trying to dominate family members (particularly small children), especially if not spayed or neutered or if untrained. Pigs are herd animals, and as such are always looking to change position in the herd through dominance. You must train your pig to respect you and your family members. Please look up (Move the Pig) for examples. Pigs can easily become bored and destructive if not given enough stimulation.


"Pigs are not people pleasers; they are pig pleasers!"


Every pig is different, so be sure to take the time to find one whose personality fits your family dynamic. Pigs thrive on routine, which means their owners must also stick to that routine. Meal times should occur at the same time every day, which means you need to get up every morning and be home at the same time every single day. Failure to stick to a routine can lead to a destructive or loud, demanding pig. Pigs are very time-consuming pets that require a lot of attention and time from their owners to be well-behaved members of the family.

Re-homing pigs can be difficult and the change of circumstance sometimes causes them to "mourn" for those they were close to. Pigs have been known to give up, and refuse to eat, in affect starving themselves to death, after an owner gives them up. Lots of love and attention can help them adjust while they get used to their new life. Once again this is a long commitment that should never be taken lightly.

Travel

pig on leash sleeping while waiting in check out line
Young Buttercup on a leash at Tractor Supply sleeping

Pigs bond very strongly with their owners and do not always respond well to them leaving. Pigs should never be dropped off at a dog kennel for boarding and a sitter who is familiar with the pig will need to be found. This person will need to know the pig’s behavior, schedule and what to do in case of an emergency. A pig may try to challenge any incoming caretaker or develop health issues (such as ulcers) due to the stress of their owner being gone.


Vet Care

Vet care for a pet pig can be challenging. Many small animal vets will not see pigs and you will have to seek out someone with experience. Vet visits for pigs typically cost more, as they are an exotic animal and not as common for most clinics. Pigs do not do well with anesthesia and need to have a special type used . Spaying or neutering your pet pig is extremely important and can be quite costly (typically $250-$400 for a spay and $100-$300 for neutering). Male pigs that are unaltered emit a strong smelling musk and can act aggressively towards people or other animals. Un-spayed females can forget where to go to the bathroom, act aggressively or whine uncontrollably when they come into heat every 21 days. Additionally, uterine cancer in unfixed female pigs is incredibly high and signs usually begin to show around 5 years old.


Consider adopting an adult pig

Pink mini pig with a toothy smile
Grumpy and his toothy smile.

When you adopt an adult pig you know what size they will be: no surprises.

Many re-homing facilities ensure their pigs are well-mannered before setting them up for adoption, plus they are already fixed and vetted.

Since only 2 to 5 % of the pigs purchased as piglets stay with their family, 95 out of every 100 pigs are in need of a home at some point; that’s a lot of pigs to choose from.

Local humane societies and animal intake facilities are not equipped to take in mini pigs; unfortunately this means most are euthanized. A sad fact is that our local shelter had to euthanize nine pigs one month. Contact your local humane society and they will let you know when one is available.

Online support

http://www.centraltexaspigs.org

http://americanminipigassociation.com/

Facebook

www.facebook.com/groups/americanminipigeducation

www.facebook.com/groups/prelovedpigs


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