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Things to Consider Before You Buy a Miniature Pig

Aug 26, 2008
I'm always happy to hear that somebody is considering adopting or purchasing a miniature or potbelly pig. They are fantastic animals and if you plan on getting one you'll have years of fun together.

Before you make the leap, make sure you know what you are getting into. You, your family, your other pets and, of course, your potential mini, all deserve the best and that means making an informed decision. Do as much research as possible in advance to ensure a happy relationship. What follows are some considerations to get you started.

Check your local and county ordinances. In some places, if it walks like a pig and oinks like a pig it is a pig regardless of its size. Unless you're zoned to maintain livestock, these areas will frown on your new friend traipsing around.

Next, consider that "miniature" is a relative term. Unlike its miniature counterparts, a farm pig can grow to hundreds of pounds in size, easily attaining weights of 700 pounds or more. A blue-ribbon prize winning county fair sow might well top out at over 1000 pounds. So when you hear "miniature," it's only miniature in comparison to those massive examples. Though comparatively smaller, miniatures can still weigh as much as or more than a large dog (40-200 pounds) though they will be more compact.

Like dogs, miniature pigs are also highly social animals. They form very close bonds with their human family members and can suffer depression when abandoned. If you aren't sure you can commit to a long term bonding with your pet, you might want to consider a less social animal. It's also important to know that some breeds can live as long as twenty-five years so this is not a short-term commitment you're considering. Learn the lifespan potential of the breed you are considering and plan accordingly.

If you're still committed to bringing home the bacon (sorry, couldn't resist) then it's time to consider your pet's dwelling. Miniature pigs are not fans of change so it's best to have what you (and your pet) need arranged before you even walk in the door together for the first time.

Have a nursery set up for your mini complete with toys, a bed, water bowl, blankets and towels (for him to root in). Yes, pigs love toys and you can provide them with hours of fun by purchasing small rubber/plastic squeak toys for them. Pigproof the space in advance much the same way as you might childproof a room by covering electrical outlets, ensuring electrical cords are out of reach and that there are no sharp objects or small ingestible hazards lying around.

In addition to a nursery you'll want to provide your mini with an outdoor area for grazing, wandering and rooting. Do not use chemical fertilizers on grass your pet may graze on and be sure the area is enclosed so piggy doesn't wander off.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning trash. Pigs are not dirty animals but they eat...well, like pigs. Just as a dog will gladly knock over a trashcan for a helping of four-day-old chicken bones, a pig will gladly dine at the Hefty Bag Buffet if given the chance. Ensure your trashcans have child locks or stay secured in cabinets. Latches for your refrigerator are also recommended. Miniature pigs are amazingly bright animals and they will, given the chance, learn how to open the fridge for their dining pleasure.

You should also have high quality feed ready for your pet and rules in place for your children. Let children know not to play too rough with their new pet. Your mini's first day at home, away from its former surroundings, is full of new (and often frightening) sights, smells and sounds. Children should be gentle and calm and existing pets should be slowly acclimated to the new family addition.

Finally, as a bonus tip, you will quickly learn that miniature pigs do not like to be picked up and will squeal horribly when they are. People often wonder why this is or if they are hurting their pet. Don't worry about it. Pick your pig up when needed but don't do so just in an effort to cuddle. The pets most of us are accustomed to (dogs and cats) aren't particularly offended by being picked up and carried because they are familiar with the sensation. Being carried in the mouths of their mothers is within the instinctive norm for them. Pigs, however, have no such frame of reference and instinctively associate being picked up with being prey animals.

Does that mean these little guys aren't affectionate? Bite your tongue. Nothing says "love" in quite the same way as a pig snuffling, grunting and squealing with joy when its family comes home from work. It's how you'll know that piggy loves you and missed you while you were away. Your pet will also love to snuggle up next to you as it is accustomed to doing with its litter mates. Just don't let piggy get in the habit of jumping up on you. Those hard hooves, I assure you, will leave your legs affectionately bruised.
About the Author
David writes for MiniaturePigsGuide.com, a blog devoted to educating potential owners about miniature and potbelly pigs, their care and special considerations.
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