Charlotte’s Web and Babe showed us that pigs can be cute and adorable. Thus it should not come as a surprise when many are keeping them as pets today. Even some of our favorite Hollywood celebrities are fond of these hogs.
Transformer babe Megan Fox has Piggy Smalls. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has Princess Pigelette. From spotted to pot-bellied, pigs are in demand. And guess what’s getting the buzz these days? TEACUP PIGS.
That’s right, keeping teacup pigs is now fashionable. It makes Paris and her Chihuahua appearing old fashioned. It makes the 101 Dalmatians more common. It makes Peggy and Pongos’ encounter in London Park less elegant.
Teacup pigs are no doubt now a vogue even when PETA is not so happy about the increasing number of piglet adoption. But if George Clooney had his “Max the Star” without so much grunts from the animal rights groups, then why can’t you have your own mini pig too?
While pigs’ hedonistic and greedy qualities can make you cringe, they also have some good characteristics that are worth mentioning. They are more than just the dirty and smelly nano pigs inside the cage. They have noteworthy intelligence. In fact, they are one of the ten smartest animals in the planet.
A research published in the Animal Behaviour showed that domestic pigs can quickly learn how mirrors work and can quickly use their understanding of reflected images in exploring their environment or surroundings to find their food. The research also found out that hogs can learn a new routine fast. Circus routines like bow and stand, roll out rugs, herd sheeps, play with video games, and made word-like sounds are easy for them to learn. And what is worth noting is that they are slow to forget things. They can learn something on a first try and remember it for a long time.
Now, besides their intelligence, what makes teacup pigs a good choice as pets is that they are clean. Yes, you read that right, CLEAN. This word may be far from the muddy hogs you usually see in farms, but that is what perfectly describes them. Messy, portly, and simpleminded are stereotypes that are farther from the truth. A misunderstanding, we should say, because as a matter of fact, mini pigs like to maintain separate areas for eating, sleeping, and defecation. When given enough room and freedom, they would choose to be tidy and clean. And the only reason they seem to love rolling in mud is that they need to feel cool. Because unlike dogs and cats, they don’t have sweat glands.
Aside from being smart and clean, micro pigs are also curious, playful, and loving. They are not some greedy and lazy animals with a favourite routine of eating and sleeping. If given the freedom, they would roam and explore. If given attention, they would be happy to play with you. If given time and care, they would show you love. They can be a “man’s best friend” to you. They love attention and would be so happy to be spoken to. A good scrub down and a scratch behind the ear can easily make their day.
Are you torn between the two? If you are ready for something unique or exotic, something that would be a challenge, then teacup pigs make a good choice. Nonetheless, to help you make a well-informed decision, let us take a look at the pros and cons and of owning these cute and adorable pets with regard to the following factors:
1. Price. They do not come cheaply, that’s for a fact, but so as those pups with expensive breeds. Akita, Bearded Collie, Tibetan Mastiff, Chow Chow, and Samoyed can cost thousands of pounds. What is more, their total annual care can be as high as their purchase price. So, if you think that a teacup pig is expensive, think again. For something as cute and unique as them, the price is just right. And besides, not everybody get to own a teeny piglet.
2. Feeds. Pigs can be demanding when it comes to food, and they sure can learn how to open the fridge. There’s no need to worry about getting your pantry hacked and emptied though because while your little friend can be greedy, it will only eat what its tummy can carry. And besides, you can always train it to eat only his ration for the day. As mentioned earlier, pigs are intelligent animals they can easily remember things taught to them. So, teach your pet good feeding habits from the start.
3. Care. They have no sweat glands so they need to be kept cooled. Daily bath would be necessary. But don’t worry because that’s all they need to feel comfortable the whole day. Unlike dogs, they don’t need to be trimmed regularly. Their hairs are short and seldom falls off, making them a safer choice for those with allergies. In addition, they only need two important vaccinations; one is an immune booster and the other is a worm killer.
They are easy to care and easy to love, but the question is: is a teacup pig for you? Or, are your family ready for it? Here are some guide questions to help you:
oCan you afford it? Like most pets, it needs investment.
oDo you have time for it? It’s not some animals you can just leave in a cage.
oDo you know how to take care of pigs? You’ve got to do some research.
oIs your home ready? Pigs can be curious and invaders, so prepare your place.
Are you ready to own one? Then here are some tips to acquiring your very own teacup pig:
1. Contact your local municipality counsel and inquire if you are allowed to keep pigs in your area.
2. Get in touch with reputable dealer who is specializing in this type of pet. Choose one that can provide you advice on pig care.
2. Gather some information about its breeding process or method. This is to make sure that you are getting a healthy teacup piglet. Bright eyes, moist noise, shiny coat, and activeness are signs that the piglet is in good health.
3. Prepare your budget. The price varies according to breeders, so prepare to pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollar. Make sure you purchase one from a reputable breeding farm.
4. Start with a single pig. Don’t buy two or more in the first try. You need to practice or learn how to manage one first.
5. Decide on the sex. Females always make a good choice because they are easy to manage and they have no strong odors like that of males. However, if you prefer the latter, make sure it is castrated. Castrating makes pigs easier to handle and quieter, and helps quell off the strong piggy smell.
6. Consider the temperament. You want a fun and friendly pet. If it looks aggressive, is snapping with little or no provocation, and seems to be a bit wild, check your other choices and look for a better-natured one.
When bringing the piglet in your home for the first time, make sure to have a place prepared for it. It needs a warm, safe and quiet room to get settled. You can have the bathroom or the laundry room for this purpose.
Now, to prepare the area, furnish it with a good bed and a pan of water. Also, do not forget the litter box. Remember, pigs want their place clean. They want separate areas for sleeping, eating, and defecation.
If the mini pig is less than three weeks old, hang an infra-red lamp above it every night—probably at least two and a half feet above its bed. This will help keep it warm against the chills and the cold nights.
On the other hand, if you want to give your piglet a little treat, prepare a small pool where it can bath and keep its body cool.
A balanced pig diet is composed of meat, fruits, and vegetables. This means that even when pig feeds are available, you should give your teacup pig a daily serving for veggies and fruits. As recommended by the experts, fresh vegetables should make up at least 25 percent of its daily diet. Celery, cucumbers, peppers, and potatoes are suggested. The calories found in these foods can help keep its appetite down.
Fruits like apples, grapes, and banana are a good treat. Unsalted and unsweetened popcorn, crackers, and cereal are also good. But when it comes to grapes, make sure to give these in small amounts as they can make your hog urinate a lot. Don’t forget to provide fresh water all the time too to keep it hydrated.
oRaw potatoes – these can be toxic for hogs.
oPumpkins – these can contribute to scours.
oRaw meat and raw food leftovers– this can carry bacteria and diseases.
Most urban and residential areas enforced leash laws, requiring pet owners to keep their pets in control when in public, particularly to keep them from wandering off and causing some mess and trouble. Thus, you might need to train your teacup pig for it.
1. Determine if your pet is ready for a harness. Make sure it is comfortable enough with you to put one on it.
2. Get the right leash size. Young teacup pigs can be very tiny and they often won’t fit into an ordinary harness. So you might want to get one customised for your pet. Choose a harness that fits snugly on your piggy and gives it room to move around comfortably,
3. Put the leash when your pet is comfortable with you. We have mentioned this in the first step but it bears repeating. Getting it used to the harness will take time, so be patient. It would help if you feed it while putting on the leash.
4. Walk your pig. So you have successful leashed him? Congratulations! You’re almost done with most of the hard work. Your main challenge now is to train your pig to walk with it. Start by grabbing food treats and setting him off for a walk. If he follows, give him a delicious treat as a reward.
We remember saying that pigs are clean; that they know how to keep a separate defecation area. The challenge though is ensuring that they use the litter box. Here are some tips that you might find helpful.
1. Choose the right litter box. You don’t need to buy expensive litter boxes for your teeny friend. Plastic clothing containers or large, empty drawers will do. Just make sure to put a lining on it for ease of cleaning. As for the litter, you can choose to use pine shavings or pine pellets but, if you are on a budget you can opt for shredded newspaper. Avoid clamping cat litter because your teacup pig might mistook it for food, causing intestinal problems that could have been easily avoided.
2. Find a good location for the litter box. It should be near your pet’s resting area. For sure, you would not want to put your own bed next to the toilet.
3. Train him gradually. If your piggy begun to defecate elsewhere, move his faecal waste to the litter box and guide him to it. Also, do not clean all the droppings from the box every day. Leave at least one or two inside. The smell of it will teach your pet that this is where his waste belongs.
4. Train every day. Spend at least an hour or two daily in guiding him to his litter box. This will help remind him of his bathroom’s location, plus the scent may urge him to use it.
With daily practice, your little friend should be able to adjust to his new litter box in no time.
Pigs are social creatures; they tend to go in groups. However, when under human’s care; they tend to be isolated. Thus, you should spend time with your pet more often. You should allow them to socialise with other pigs or animals, and especially humans. But of course, to be able to do this, you have to build trust first. Here’s how:
Give you pet some privacy: Don’t invade his space. Wait for him to come to you and explore you. When you are in his area, just sit and wait in the corner. When he is ready, he will come to you and check you out.
Move slowly: Sudden jerks and quick movement can scare them. This is because they have poor eyesight; they can’t tell if its danger or not.
Warn him before touching: Let your hog know beforehand that you are going to touch him. You can do this by saying the word “touch” before stroking him.
Don’t pick him up: Being picked up and carried is not a normal experience for pigs, unlike dogs and cats. They hate it, so avoid doing so unless necessary. To prepare your piggy for such, say the word “up” every time you pick him up. This way, he wouldn’t be anxious to get away.
A teacup pig is one of the most adorable and exotic pet you will ever have, but owning one entails responsibility and commitment. So it is important that you prepare yourself before acquiring one. After that, have fun and enjoy great bonding moments with your lovely mini pig!
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