When contemplating having a pig as a pet, families need to obtain as much information as possible. Considered a farm animal in many locations, communities may or may not allow private pig ownership. Pigs display affection, intelligence and loyalty, but might also have demanding and possibly aggressive temperaments. The health and well being of pigs demands plenty of attention, regular exercise and safe, inescapable environments.
Though tiny and adorable as infants, miniature or pot-bellied pigs may weigh anywhere from 60 to 200 pounds when fully mature, with a lifespan ranging from 12 to 18 years. Some breeders raise teacup or micro mini versions of the pot-belied pig, maturing to 50 pounds or less, but these animals often develop health problems and have lifespans of only around five years. Misinformed owners often regret adoption decisions because of the unexpected size of the adult pig or because families cannot meet the animal’s requirements. There are many pig rescue shelters across the country, filled with unwanted animals. While many prefer cute, cuddly piglets, often times they come with hefty price tags. Families seriously considering a pig for a pet might also research rescue facilities.
Pig food requirements vary with age, as with any other animal. Pet stores and veterinarians are some of the places owners find food especially designed for miniature pigs. Up to six weeks of age, breeders generally feed piglets as much as they desire. From six weeks to three months of age, piglets consume 1 to 1 ½ cups of food, divided into two meals per day. Starting at the age of three months, pigs receive ½ cup of food for every 25 pounds of body weight. This amount is also divided into two meals per day. In addition, pigs require 25 percent of their diet in vegetables. Grass or hay might be supplemented for this requirement. Pigs also require fresh drinking water at all times.
Some pig owners choose to keep the animal in the house, which special preparation. While owners capably carry small piglets, transporting heavier adult pigs becomes more of a challenge. The short legs of a pig prevent the convenience of climbing stairs or hopping in and out of vehicles. Curious, intelligent and mischievous, pigs may also encounter a number of household dangers. They will aptly eat anything found on floors, which may prove toxic or a choking hazard. While displaying natural behaviors, pigs may overturn household items, get into cupboards or gnaw on harmful objects, which include power cords. The innate ability to encounter trouble means owners must not leave pigs unattended unless contained within an area void of all possible hazards. Indoor bedding might include a pet carrier with a favorite blanket.
If kept outdoors, breeders suggest having at least two pigs, which serve as companions for each other. The animals require confined, sturdy areas from which they cannot escape. Prone to sunburn, pigs require shelter from the elements. Plastic water filled kiddie pools provide a means of staying cool. They also cannot tolerate cold temperatures without adequate bedding and possibly heated floor mats. Sand or dirt encourages the natural desire to root.
Grooming requirements usually include a daily brushing with a flexible bristle brush. Occasionally pig parents bathe their pets using tear free baby shampoos. Rubbing baby oil into the skin daily maintains moisture and prevents drying. Part of pig grooming also entails trimming tusks and hooves, necessitating a trip to the vet. Pig health requirements also include periodic vaccinations and biannual worming.
Training a piglet requires the same patience, repetition and positive reward system commonly used to train puppies. Owners often housebreak pigs using litter boxes or the animal typically finds a specific area in the yard for elimination. Also like dogs, pigs must learn early who rules the roost. Being intelligent, the animals often try to test boundaries or display demanding and manipulative behavior.