Are you shopping for a pet, but tired of the same old cats, dogs, gerbils and birds? Perhaps you should consider adopting a pot-bellied pig. The first image that pops into your head when you think of a pig is probably the very cumbersome, pink animal, covered in mud and eating out of a trough. The truth is, pot-bellied pigs have many great attributes that make them an appealing animal addition to the family; they are extremely intelligent, really affectionate, surprisingly clean and quiet pets.
Here are some particulars about pot-bellied pigs:
In some ways, pot-bellied pigs are not all that different from dogs in that they are easily housebroken, leash trainable, and behavior trainable. As a pet, the pot-bellied pig is, however, quite a bit of work, and therefore should only be seriously considered if the owner is ready, willing and able to devote time and energy to its care and training.
Life & SizeThey have a long life, and can get larger than you think. The average life span for pot-bellied pigs is around 12 to 18 years, but some resources have estimated that they can live over 20 years.
Although often called miniature pot-bellied pigs, a fully-grown pig can reach an average weight of 150 pounds. The name really refers to their smaller size in relation to pigs bred for food. Their height as adults typically ranges from 16-26 inches from the shoulder, and it takes a pig anywhere from 2-3 years to reach its full size.
These pigs are social animals, and would do well to be adopted with another pig. However, they do not tend to mix well with other types of pets, especially dogs. They thrive on human interaction, and love affection in the form of tummy rubs (like cats and dogs).
Space & Time
It is important to provide indoor pigs with their own space, preferably one not particularly susceptible to drafts, and one with a linoleum or tile surface in case of potty-training accidents. It should also be able to be closed off from other rooms, and if the pig came in a cage, that should be placed within this space, too. Examples of good pot-bellied pig spaces include the kitchen or a utility room. This helps the pig become accustomed to being in the cage when being taken to the vet or kennel, as does occasionally locking the pig in the cage.
As for outdoor pigs, they should be fenced in, and their body temperatures counterbalanced with the seasons. If you care anything about your lawn, however, outdoor pigs are not for you. They are rooting animals, and will dig for food right in your pretty flowers and grass.
Additionally, owners will want to potty train their pigs, using a shallow litter box lined with newspapers. Traditional cat litter boxes are too deep, and the pigs tend to eat cat litter (eww!!).
Pigs’ diets must consist of a sufficient amount of high-fiber, low-calorie pig feed. Pig feed, like Mazuri or Manna Pro pig food or like Vitakraft/sunseed Pot Bellied Pig Food (AFFILIATE LINK), is typically available at feed stores and even at some pet stores.
Feeding them only fresh fruits and vegetables deprives them of certain essential nutrients, though giving them to pigs as occasional treats is fine. Above all, don’t be duped into believing that their weight should be controlled by underfeeding them (according to recommended daily rations)-this will invariably lead to an underfed, malnourished pig, and constitutes abuse.
Grooming & Discipline
Grooming needs for this breed of pig include cleaning the eyes and ears, as well as trimming hooves. Some males need their tusks trimmed. They must be dewormed and vaccinated yearly by a vet who specializes in pig care. They don’t need much bathing, but it is important to keep their skin well hydrated, as they don’t sweat and are susceptible to dry skin otherwise.
Also, be aware that pot-bellied pigs, intelligent as they are, need discipline. Their drive to eat often leads them to learn how to open the fridge, cabinets, and anywhere else they think they will find food. They will even go so far as to accost children for their food. This is an example of how aggressive they can be; like dogs, they need to be taught that you are the dominant one. These pigs respond well to positive reinforcement (read: FOOD), but should never be physically rebuffed.
Spay & Neuter
Pot-bellied pigs should be spayed or neutered as early on as possible. As with cats and dogs, the pig population outnumbers adopters, with many ending up in pig sanctuaries. Also, both male and female pigs start to display their respective sex’s hormonal tendencies early on, as early as eight weeks in males, and three months in females.
Zoning & Ordinances
Finally, check to make sure that zoning laws allow you to own a pot-bellied pig in your home. While some owners end up abandoning their pet pot-bellied pig when the pig ends up growing larger than they think and end up requiring more care than they were able to actually provide, other owners end up being forced to give up their pet pig because of a local ordinance they never knew existed. So be sure to double check your local laws and be aware of any home owners’ association rules or whatever else might apply to you where you live.
If you’re still considering adding a pot-bellied pig to your household, feel free to check out these additional resources: