before you get a pig
Pigs are amazing, loving, needy, fantastically smart creatures. They are unlike any other pet and not for the faint of heart to take care of. The idea of a "Teacup pig" "Mirco Pig" "Pocket Pig or "Mini Pig" is grossly romanticised by breeders, popular Instagram accounts, mainstream media and the uneducated populous. All the people telling you pigs stay under 50lbs are lying! Plain and simple, PIGS DO NOT STAY SMALL! We love our pigs, and could not imagine our lives without them, but they are challenging animals to care for, demand a lot and have a lot of needs. PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE GETTING A PIG!
An Open Letter From A Pig Rescue To Anyone Thinking Of Getting A Pig
So You Want a Pet Pig?
Here is an open letter to all who are considering getting a pet pig. It was written by Sherry Burnett from January 17, 2015 and added to the Mini Pig Info website with her permission. Sherry runs Ruby Ranch Pig Sanctuary in Canada.
Click here to read what it is like to have a pig as a pet.
An open letter to anyone who is considering a pig for a pet.
In the last week alone, I have gotten 4 emails/messages from people wanting me to take their pig. My friend is picking up another one today that someone was going to surrender to the Humane Society, other friends worked so hard to save on from the same fate, only to have the person flake at the last second and stop responding to their texts. Other friends are furiously trying to make space for the onslaught of surrendered pigs. On average, I get about one request a week. That's just me, one sanctuary. There are 4 or 5 other local sanctuaries who get several weekly too. We can't keep up. What on earth is going to happen to all these pigs? No one, regardless of time or money, can keep up.
Please, if you are thinking of getting a pig, commit to their lifetime. If you get a baby, you are looking at 15-20 years caring for that pig. If you're nearing retirement age, are you going to want to travel? Because it's hard to find a pig-sitter. Pigs bond very strongly to their families, and don't take well to a stranger suddenly telling them what to do. No one knows what changes the future might bring, so be prepared to keep that pig against all odds. Because the odds are stacked against that pig ending up in a good, forever home.
Because they bond so strongly, re-homing is a huge stress for them. They truly grieve for their lost families, some of them for weeks, Refusing to eat or even get up, they will point their nose in a corner or lie at the gate, waiting for their people to come and get them.
A lot of people think their pig needs to be in a herd, and a sanctuary would be an ideal situation for them. Well, let me tell you this. Many pigs that come here from a single pig home, who have only known living in a house, DON'T do well at first, some of them take YEARS to fit in. Some never do. The other pigs pick on them, and they have no frame of reference as to how to deal with these other pigs. No matter the love and patience they get at a sanctuary, it can never equal what they got in your home. There are always many others who need attention. Even if they just move on to another home situation, it's hard on them. So many pigs are bounced from home to home, and with each bounce, they become less trusting, more apt to have behavioral problems that will likely just see them bounced again, unless they end up with someone with pig experience.
This group is to let people know that pigs grow up, they will not fit in a teacup for long, no matter what that breeder is trying to tell you. But there are many, many other things that you need to consider too, besides size.
A pig is not like a dog, he won't seamlessly adjust to living with you. Some of them act like they couldn't care less about you. (Those are often the ones who grieve the most when they are given up by the way) A pig may be the sweetest friend ever, to you and maybe your family members, but visitors are not welcome, and will be challenged.
Another big reason people give up their pigs is because they are moving, and it's almost impossible (almost!) to find a place to rent that allows pigs. You have to find a compassionate landlord, and then make sure the city/town you are moving to allows pigs.
People give up their pigs because they have conflicts with other pets. Some dogs just never accept the pig, and the pig will challenge the dog. Most pigs will want to be at the top of the hierarchy, and see the dog as a challenge to that. In all cases where the dog is bigger than the pig, the pig will lose the fight, sometimes with catastrophic results. Many small or compromised health dogs will be on the losing end, also with horrifying results.
Not enough time to spend with them is another big reason people give them up. An indoor pig has only you to entertain them. You are their world, and if you are going to be gone 12 hours a day, they will get anxious, and they will get into things. They'll tip over your garbage cans, they'll rip up your carpets, root holes in your drywall. They need you, or a pig companion. Or a pen outside where they can do pig stuff.
A lot of pigs end up homeless because of conflict with children. If you have small kids, or may have kids in the near future, they need to be taught how to deal with a pig, or they will be dominated.
People having an un-altered pig often leads to re-homing. A male has one thing on his mind, and for a week out of every month, so does a female. It makes them frantic, and males will have a strong musk, and their pee smells like a jungle beast. Please spay or neuter.
Please don't go into this decision lightly. Don't just visit a breeder's facility, visit a sanctuary, or someone you know who already has a pig. You won't learn anything about their behavior by seeing a litter of piglets, you need to see the adults, and not the pigs that the breeder is claiming are adults, because those pigs are almost never fully grown. They'll grow for the first 4 years of their life, and if the breeder is telling you the parents ARE 4 years or older, ask for proof.
Are there pigs that stay small? Small is relative. The smallest I have seen fully grown is 40 pounds. That is so rare. Count on anywhere from 80- 180. Breeders are definitely trying to breed smaller pigs, but that is often by breeding runt to runt, which causes many health problems in the babies. Even a 40 or 60 pound pig is not like having the equivalent sized dog. Pigs are strong, with dense bodies, and you can't just pick them up and move them, it's like trying to pick up a baby tiger. A 40 pound animal with an attitude is a handful. They can be skittish, territorial, destructive, but you are the center of their universe.
Please, please think long and hard before getting a pig. Unless you live in an apartment, then don't think about it at all.
Thanks for reading.
Do I know how big this pig will get? You should never take a piglet under 3 months into your care as they will have major psychological problems, early and later. Many vets who have PBP practices warn against this abusive first step so common in placing pigs. So at 3 months the average pot belly pig will weigh 15-30 pounds. Pigs at adulthood (4 to 5 years of age) will weigh 80-200 pounds if properly fed and get plenty of exercise. Understanding that this is normal is a first step. People who try to sell you (or give you) a pig and tell you that it will stay under 50# are not telling you the truth about pigs
Do pigs need to be outside a lot of the time? Pigs are designed to be outside, rooting in the earth. You can have a pig that lives indoors, but it needs time to graze, root and be outside. Grazing is not a luxury, but a health necessity, it builds their immune system and keeps their digestion working. Pigs who don't go outside every day become unhealthy, bored and frustrated. If your pig is outside, be sure to apply sunscreen, have ample shade, clean drinking water, and a small child's wading pool or mud to cool off in. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PIG IN WATER UNATTENDED!
Can I keep my pig with my dogs or other animals? Not in most cases. Dogs will naturally attack and kill pigs. That is the normal predator (dog)/prey (pig) relationship. It doesn't matter how well they seem to get along. What may appear to be "play" between a piglet and a dog at first, is a prelude to the eventual deadly encounter. In time the dog will naturally attack the pig. A small toy breed dog will not be likely to offer much aggression but any hunting dog or large breed is an extremely high risk. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PIG + DOG ALONE!
How old do these pigs get? The lifespan of a miniature pig is 15-20 years. Pigs form very strong relationships with people and the loss of their family is devastating. Keeping pigs in pairs or small groups can help alleviate the grieving over the years as changes occur. Never give a young pig to a senior.. they are far too difficult for older people to handle and chances are they will be left grieving when their human dies or becomes too aged to continue to care for them.
What does it cost per year to keep a pig? Between vet costs for vaccines, hoof, teeth and tusk maintenance, food, enrichment activities etc.., Annual costs average around $900. Pigs require hoof maintenance about every 6 weeks and tusk maintenance a couple times a year, once they grow in.
Who will do the vet work? Finding an experienced pig vet is difficult. Only 3 universities even teach pig medicine so there is hardly any training for vets. A dog and cat vet will not usually treat the pig and typically shouldn't. Best bet is a farm animal vet and you need to be very sure they know what they're doing. Check out this list of vets in your area from Mini Pig Info .
Am I zoned for a pet pig? Pigs are considered 'livestock' animals by the Dept of Agriculture and are not allowed within certain cities/town to live in many states. You need to check with your specific zoning ordinance of your city/town to see if they allow miniature pigs. Also, check with any home association that your house may be a member of as they may have specific covenants against pigs. Even your deed may have a "no swine" covenant from 100 years past. See Mini Pig Info's zoning page for more information.
Are there other restrictions or regulations on pigs? Yes, and they are federally enforced. Pigs are one of the animals to be regulated by the NAIS system of identification if it ever gets implemented across the country. Your pig will be issued an ID number and need to be permanently ID'd by microchip. He may not be moved from the home without filing a request with NAIS. Until NAIS is fully implemented the paperwork and blood testing is all done by the state USDA. Moving a pig without the state issued papers can result in him being confiscated and destroyed. You could also face fines.
What will I do with my pig if I cannot keep it? The sanctuaries are all full. When people get pigs for pets they seldom see a list like this or get a chance to understand what they are getting into. So many get them without full information and then cannot keep them later, and the places for them to go are few and usually full. Be very careful about "placement" groups as they have one purpose, to collect fees, and how safe the pig may be is of secondary concern.
I want to have my pig be an only pig, stay inside and be very bonded to me. How do I make that happen? For the pig it means a lifetime of separation from his kind, the only creatures on the planet who speak his language and feel his feelings. Approximately 96% of pigs who become homeless are from single pig households. Pigs frequently attack toddlers and older family members. Why blame the pig? It is simply angry at being held captive in the "prison" you created.
This Article Is A Must Read Before You Add A Mini Pig To Your Family.
If you can't make this promise, then a pig is not for you!
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