Checklist before adding a family member with an oink!..
Before you get a pig, here is a 10 point Q&A of things to think about. Please read it thoroughly and think about your answers.. Remember, we are a non-profit organization that has rescued thousands of miniature pigs for over 20 years now and we DO NOT want you to get into something that will not work, may harm your family members or result in yet another homeless pig. We have only the welfare of the pig and you in mind. We do not sell or barter in anything and have nothing to gain or lose by providing this information, except to prevent more tragic pig / people mismatches.
Miniature pigs, teacup minis, micro-minis and Vietnamese miniatures are all the same pig. There are a few subspecies but in terms of size and behavior they are all similar.
1) 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. They are in the business of selling pigs, not caring for pigs for their lifetimes. Perhaps they really don't know.. since most destroy their breeding stock before they ever reach adulthood. The only pigs that stay smaller than this norm fall into two categories, genetic mutations who have short, sickly, and often torturous lives, and those who have been starved and also have short, sickly, and often torturous lives. We have had scores of these poor pigs through our sanctuary and know the outcome of genetic malpractice. At this time we have a young adult "teacup" who has been through over a month of intense vet care in a vet hospital and has had several follow up trips for respiratory disease and GI problems. His vet bills after only 6 weeks here are over $1000. And he will never be a healthy normal pig. He is blind and has none of the clean and careful habits of a normal potbelly. There are no reputable breeders with pigs, only ignorant greedy people. Don't be a victim of their marketing.
This pig was a "micro mini" according to the breeder. She showed the prospective and very gullible buyer both parents.. both were small pigs (both were probably under a year old) and swore this pig would be no more than 50 pounds grown. She is now a normal 160 pound girl.
2) Do pigs need to be outside a lot of the time? I have been told they can live inside. Pigs are designed to be outside rooting in the earth and living in herds. It is not mentally or physically healthy to house a pig indoors Yes, you can offer it indoor/outdoor living, but a pig needs at least a minimum of 4 hours outside with a large fenced in area to dig up if it wants. These are wild pigs, raised in captivity, they are not domesticated pets like dogs, the are more like a tapir or antelope, they need space and grazing . 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 and the ramifications are to root up your carpet, vinyl, chew holes in the walls and become hostile towards the human household.
3) 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 likley to offer much aggression but any hunting dog or large breed is extremely high risk. Please go to www.pigpals.com and click on the educational links page for more information regarding that subject. Most have ears, noses, feet and rectums chewed off when its a dog attack, while horses and any other equines (donkey, llama, burro) will break the neck of a pig or rip its back off while trying to do so. . Horses have an innate fear/hatred for pigs. I have yet to hear a good explanation but have seen many fatally wounded pigs from the incidents. . Pigs can make friends safely with cats and rabbits and many do well with herds of cattle in open spaces where they aren't likely to get stepped on. .
4) 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.
5) What does it cost per year to keep a pig?
|Initial costs||Annual Costs|
|Spay/neuter/shots (before 4 months of age)||$250-$500||Feed $500 (Mazuri youth feed 1 pound daily) Add fresh fruit and vegetables when grazing is poor. The special diet needed for seniors will cost $900 per year .|
|Fencing 1/4 to 1/2 acre||$600-1000 if you do it yourself|| Vet care $150-300
ages 1 -11 shots/tusk&hoove trims, worming/dental checkups
Vet care $300- 500 ages 12-20 , shots, tusks, hooves, dental care, routine diagnostics
|House built by a storage shed builder (usually cheaper than you can do it) 4x4x4||$350-500||Surgical and extra medical care.. you may never have to find out or you may one day see a bill for $4500.|
Pool (from PA heartland )
Feeds and water dishes
|Pet sitting costs ..
traveling with a pig is out.. they hate it and it is illegal to take them across state lines
$30 and up per day
|Crate (giant) / chute/ramp for loading a pig going to the vet||$500|| Supplies; sunscreen,
aloe heal lotion, supplements/medications as they age
$30-100, $400 if arthritic.
|Sand pile, busy ball, other enrichment items||$150||Avg annual cost: $900+|
6) 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. Best bet is a farm animal vet and you need to be very sure he knows what he is doing. You will need a chute, ramp and means to transport him to the vet. You won't be lifting him when he is full grown. Check with your closest vet school.. For most pig people an experienced pig vet is a 4 to 8 hour drive away. Ask at the vet schools for a recommendation closer to where you live but be prepared to travel great distances to find quality care. .
7. 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.
8) Are there other restrictions or regulations about 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. Pigs carry diseases that are economically devastating to the farming business so their movements are strictly curtailed by the state and federal agencies. Moving a pig without the state issued papers can result in him being confiscated and destroyed. You could also face fines.
9) What will I do with my pig if I have to move, get a divorce or for some other reason cannot keep him? Chances are he will have to be put down or placed in a risky situation where he will not be safe. 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. If you go to our placements page you can read about the risks in our part of the country when trying to place a pig in a good home. 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.
10) I want to have my pig be an only pig, stay inside and be very bonded to me. How do I make that happen? If you think this through you will soon realize this is NOT really what you want at all.. 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. For you it means a demanding and whiney companion who will destroy the house, bite everyone that comes near him and eventually even back you down as he establishes his role as "boss hog". He will be unhappy and frustrated in his life and you will pay dearly for it. Approximately 96% of pigs who become homeless are from single pig households. What starts with a tiny cute and agreeable piglet ends tragically with a 180 pound pig with long hooves and tusks that no one can trim until he is crippled and dies or he attacks the wrong person and is killed.. Pigs frequently attack toddlers and older family members. Why blame the pig? He is simply angry at being held captive in the "prison" you created.. think about what your "wants" mean for the pig.. its all bad news.
OK.. so maybe a pig isn't in my future but I don't like dogs and can't have a horse on my small property.. what makes a good pet? Maybe consider a guinea pig or a rabbit or both. They are both litter trainable.. and a small outdoor yard with lots of grass is a delightful place for them to take their afternoons.. Smaller spaces needed, less damage, less danger to family, transportable if you want to go visit grandma and there is a great need for homes for these pets too. Contact Great Lakes Rabbit Rescue for information on keeping rabbits and do a search for a Rabbit or Guinea pig rescue near you.