A Guide to Owning Miniature Pigs
Gone are the days when pigs were simply farm animals.
Today, the status of these porcine creatures has been elevated to that of household companions. They now join the ranks of dogs, cats, and birds as a popular pet choice. This is particularly true with the petite versions which go by many names – miniature pigs, micro pigs, teacups. However, it should be noted that their popularity in this area is not entirely new.
The Rise of Miniature Pigs: A brief history
Prior to reaching their potential as pets, small-sized porkies were housed in labs as well as barns. Refer to the timeline provided below.
1960s – Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs were used in research studies. They were sent to a handful of Western zoos to become subjects in experiments conducted in the fields such as pharmacology and toxicology. They were also identified as sources for organ transplantation.
Mid-1980s – Keith Connell of Ontario’s Bowmanville Zoo brought 20 pot-bellied pigs to the United States. This move paved the way for the proliferation of the Pot-Bellied Pig in North America. Although originally intended for U.S. zoos, they also began to attract the interest of private owners. As a result of this, mini pigs started making a home for themselves not only in pigsties but in urban apartments as well. This emerging trend was short lived though as city ordinances forbid residents from owning them; citing that their full-grown weight (around 160 pounds) was not ideal for normal housing conditions.
1992 – Chris Murray from Devon, England devoted 9 years to cross-breeding four farm pig varieties (Vietnamese Pot-belly, Kune, Tamsworths, and Gloucester Old spots) in his Pennywell farm in the quest to create smaller porcines that would make a suitable pet. After intermixing breeds for a total of 24 generations he finally struck gold. These petite oinkers were named teacup pigs since they were also partial to Murray’s favorite beverage.
2007 – English woman Jane Croft was one of the people who bought a pair of nano pigs from Murray and decided to breed and market these pint-sized mammals herself. After selling them to some famous Brits, including Harry Potter star Rupert Grint and celebrity couple David and Victoria Beckham, business took off. Croft has since appeared in television shows where she expressed the advantages of owning a mini pig.
Celebrity Status in the U.S.
From their origins in the United Kingdom, these wee creatures have since crossed the pond and found their way to the United States. Indeed, they are now residents in elite homes like that of the heiress and socialite Paris Hilton. Teacup pigs have also been featured in Hollywood TV shows like How I Met Your Mother.
The Pros and Cons
Apart from their cute appearance, here are some more reasons to own one.
It really is not difficult to imagine this affectionate mammal as man’s new best friend. For starters, they are classified as the fourth most intelligent member of the animal race; next to whales, primates, and of course humans. This makes teaching tricks to them, even when they are still young, quite easy. You can train nano pigs to roll over, sit still, and even dance. Just like a cat, they can also be taught to use the litter box.
In some cases, oinkers have been trained to make sounds when there is someone at the door so that their hard-of-hearing humans can check who’s there.
Pigs are not known for making a raucous. They grunt at best, but certainly do not bark, howl, or screech.
Porkies have also been known to warm up to the canine kind so you need not worry that your pooch won’t get along with the new addition to the family. Being sociable by nature, they can adapt well with other pets. Their docile manner makes them ideal playmates for children. But do not be fooled because they will pile on the affection if you give them plenty of belly rubs on a daily basis.
People who are hypersensitive to fur will find miniature pigs as a welcome alternative since they will not trigger allergies. Furthermore, the idea of them as smelly and messy is a widely false. Given the proper care, they are odor-free and tidy.
It is necessary to reiterate that these animals need the right amount of care and nourishment. Otherwise, they will likely turn out to be lazy or even aggressive. The next section provides tips on how to look after a pint-sized piggy.
Caring for Mini Pigs
1.See to it that you provide them with a comfortable living space. If they’re going to get their own digs, make sure to construct individual stalls for each that are lined with straw, which should be changed regularly. Then again, if you plan to have them sleep inside the house, designate a small room or a corner where they can stay in. Ideally, every pig should have his own feeding bowl, water container, and litter box that should be cleaned daily.
2.Check the temperature of the room. It should not be chilly or too hot so they won’t get sick.
3.A few days after they’re delivered to your home, schedule an initial check-up at your local veterinary clinic so they can get the necessary vaccinations. Take time to ask if there is a specific diet that should be observed for pet pigs. Neutering or spaying should also be considered as this prevents hormonal uproar so your little oinker will be more manageable. Remember, a regular visit to the vet is one sure way to keep your little darlings healthy.
4.Avoid feeding them treats ever so often as these tempting goodies have high sugar content.
5.When they are half a year old, invest in harness training so you can take your new favorites on early morning walks for exercise. At this stage, they should also be encouraged to graze so find a patch of ground that will suit this purpose.
6.Choose bath and grooming products that are suitable for your new house member so their skin won’t end up dry and flaky. Look for those that have coconut oil as an ingredient as this will keep their coats shiny and supple. Trim their hooves often too.
Truth about Size
Teacup pigs from Jane Croft are touted to reach a modest 65 pounds when they are fully grown. However, you may not have the luxury to fork over a thousand dollars to purchase a pair from her. Hence, you should do considerable research on these animals before you decide to have them as part of your household. So many online sellers claim that they are offering teacup pigs but a lot of this can be a sham. US-based breeders like Pampered Piglets will be able to provide you with essential information about the origins of your chosen creatures and have them shipped safely to your location in the United States.