Life with Pigs
Life with Pigs
The most important piece of advice for anyone considering adopting a pig.
The most important piece of advice I can give anyone before they adopt a pig is: Don't. Don't get one. And I don't mean that you shouldn't add the joy of having pigs in your life. I just mean, don't adopt only one. Adopt two. This is the best advice anyone could give in regards to living with pigs. Sure, there may be a few exceptions where this advice doesn't work out perfectly. But, for the most part, many of the issues that go along with living with pigs can be alleviated if not eliminated by simply adopting a pair of piggy pals.
There are a lot of reasons why bringing home two pigs might be a great option. For one, pigs love to challenge authority and see how far they can push those around them. It will still be necessary to make sure you don't let your pigs think they are at the top of your home hierarchy. But, having another pig present means that when one pig gets bossy or pushy, there is always another pig nearby to give it back as good as it is being given. And pigs are very social animals. So, they will quickly learn that their aggression will not go unchecked. Of course, this doesn't mean you just get to standby and do nothing. But, it will help keep any bullying on the part of one pig from getting out of hand.
Another great reason to adopt two is because this will mean that your pig always has a friend. As much as I love cuddling with our pigs and spending time with them, and much of my day is spent with our pigs, the fact remains, pigs love constant company. Living with three pigs, our girls always have someone to cuddle with or hangout with. They are still always willing to welcome any of my human family into their snuggle-fests. And I only have to lay down near them to have the entire pig family immediately swarm around me fighting for the closest position. So, you don't have to worry that having more than one pig will mean that you become less popular or less loved. Pigs have plenty of affection to go around. On the other hand, bored pigs have plenty of frustration and angst to take out on furniture, walls, floors and cabinets. So, do yourself and your home the favor of making sure your pig always has a pal.
Also, pigs speak pig. After living with pigs, you'll start to understand some pig language. And your pig will understand some of your language. But, pigs will truly be able to speak with each other and this is important. I know the scientific community has been reluctant to refer to animals as having true languages. Yet, after living with a mother and her daughter pig and watching them communicate with each other face to face and even hearing them communicate across the house, it is quite obvious that pigs have a language that they use to say a great many things to each other. Now imagine you were taken to a foreign country where you could never fully speak the language of anyone around you? This would be extremely frustrating. I can't help but feel that pigs desire to be able to speak to someone that understands them fully from time to time. Having two pigs will provide your pig with the mental stimulation of being able to have piggy conversations. They may not discuss Immanuel Kant's 'Critique of Practical Reason'… but most humans aren't doing that either. Whatever they are saying, to them it is important enough to be said, and they will appreciate having someone that can understand what they mean.
And possibly the best reason to get two pigs… one is never enough. Pigs are awesome! I've never regretted having three pigs living with us in our home. They are my three best friends. They are family. Every day is better because they are around. When we had two, it was great. Now that we have three, it is even better. If you are a pig person, and feel that your life is destined to have a pig as part of your family, I highly recommend you start with two. And, I can't say it enough: Adopt, don't shop! So many pigs need homes because people think that buying a piglet will be fun and cute without thinking things through and really considering if they are ready for the 20 year commitment and responsibility of adding a pig family member. Plus, no mother pig wants to be separated from her babies. So, don't be the reason a baby is taken from his or her mother. Be the reason a pair of rescue pigs get to celebrate having a forever home!
Charlotte Doesn't Want Mini Pigs Getting Abandoned
Around 90% of mini pigs get abandoned, and for many of them it is because people had unrealistic expectations for how small their mini pig would stay. If a breeder tells you that your pigs will stay below 50 lbs, there is a very good chance (very very good chance) that you are being scammed. Very few pigs will stay under 50 lbs and be healthy.
Breeders are out to make money. That is their primary goal. They will tell you what you want to hear even if it means that the very piglet they sell you will end up homeless or euthanized. Many breeders insist that you must limit the food of your piglet to 1/4 a cup a day to artificially keep your piglet small (and this result in irreparable health damage). So, please go to a rescue and adopt one of the thousands of pigs waiting for their forever home. Your 75-150 pound pig (the typical size of a mini pig) will be your best friend in the world. But you need to go into the experience with the right expectations!
Where Can I Buy A Real Teacup Piglet?
We’ve all heard about teacup pigs. They are these adorable little pigs that stay under 20 pounds. Sometimes they are called pocket pigs or micro mini pigs. And we’ve all heard the stories about pigs like Esther the Wonder Pig, where someone was promised that they were getting a teacup piglet when in reality they ended up with a full-sized pig. So, many people are left wondering, “Where can I find a genuine teacup pig?”
I thought it would be useful to create a guide to finding exactly that.
The first place I suggest looking is in the pet store next to the unicorn babies. Pet stores tend to keep their mythical creatures together. And if you are lucky, the pet store might even have ultra-micro-mini piglets. These are the piglets that are not even visible to the naked eye. Be sure to pick up an electron microscope for interacting with your ultra-micro-mini pig.
If the pet store is sold out, the next place to go in your search for a teacup pig is to find a trust worthy breeder. Yes, do your research. And don’t expect it to be easy. You are looking for a human that takes animals, creates artificial situations to get them pregnant intentionally and then sells their babies for a profit long before the mother would ever leave her child’s side. That sounds like the kind of person that you can trust, right? You also need to make sure that this person who is solely motivated by making money off selling someone else’s children has your best interest at heart. So, when they promise that your piglet will stay small forever, just ask them to pinky swear on it. That should do the trick.
And make sure that the breeder talks poorly about other breeders that ‘lie about their pigs’. Trustworthy breeders will assure you that they are the real deal. They will tell you exactly what you want to hear, but the difference between them and the scam-artists is that they really mean it. So, the bad breeders will say they sell ‘Genuine Teacup Piglets’ whereas the good breeders will say they sell ‘Genuine Teacup Piglets’. Can you see the difference? And a good breeder will back up their piglets with a promise that as long as you don’t ever feed your pigs, they won’t grow (or they will give you your money back).
One final place you can look for a bona fide teacup piglet is at your local shelter or mini-pig rescue. Now, be prepared to feel like your eyes are deceiving you. They are going to look like the weigh closer to 75-300 pounds. But, I promise you, these are the very pigs all the ‘trust-worthy’ breeders are selling as teacup piglets. And as we know, breeders never lie. They would never create webpages that look fully trustworthy with all kinds of promises and images showing ‘full-grown adult teacup pigs’ when in reality they were breeding young pigs to deceptively claim they were full grown adult versions of your piglet. And they’d never under feed them or over inbreeding them just to make money. And since we know we can trust breeders, clearly these giant teacup pigs must be teacup pigs. They are all the result of some careless pet parent actually feeding their pigs a sufficient diet. And remember, the only way to keep a teacup piglet small is by not feeding them. So, these pigs’ larger sizes can all be chalked up to user error.
The good news is, even at 300 pounds, a teacup pig will be your best friend. And pigs are always small at heart. In fact, every pig is certain they are too small. They demonstrate this by constantly wanting more food.
Here is tiny (in her mind) teacup pig Pumpkin who grew because of her parents feeding her.
Pigs are Extremely Affectionate Animals
Everyone knows that there are few animals on the planet that show affection as openly as a dog does. But, does this mean that dogs are the most affectionate companion animal? Not necessarily. Pigs can be extremely affectionate as well. Some pigs are better at showing affection than others, but don't let the poker faces of pigs like our Pumpkin trick you. She isn't fooling anyone by at first laying just out of reach. Then moving her head a little closer, and then closer until finally her head is on your lap or up against you. You can't read her love for you on her face like you can with many dogs. But, in her eyes, you see it. And her actions tell the real story.
And our middle pig child, Charlotte, insists on cuddle time the minute she is done with breakfast. She wants me laying on the couch so that she can climb up on my chest and nuzzle her snout against my cheek. And if I try to get up in the middle of snuggle time, the disappointment is palpable. You can feel her fighting against your effort to unearth yourself from her embrace. She also loves to snuggle up in our laps. She doesn't care that she hangs over a bit on each side. In her head, she's the still same size as our Yorkie.
And Millie loves to lick our faces and give snout kisses with her little wet nose. And she follows us everywhere we go. Just like a dog, much of the time it is motivated by affection. Sometimes she is hoping for a treat. And sometimes she just wants to be a part of the action. She is always ready to snuggle in close with someone on the couch. And, unlike Pumpkin, Millie's face shows her affection. She almost always looks like she's smiling.
But, not only are pigs affectionate towards their humans, they are super affectionate towards each other. You can see the amazing family bond between all three pigs. Pumpkin is Charlotte's mother. And Millie is not related to them, but you'd never know that Millie wasn't Pumpkin's daughter. She is always with them. They snout kiss each other. They cuddle endlessly. And if Pumpkin hears either of her daughters in distress, she is ready to come to their rescue. And when she can't get to them, it clearly bothers her. When I work with Millie on being picked up in the bedroom, Pumpkin can hear her squeal in the living room and wants to come and rescue her. Since there is a gate blocking her, she knocks things over or tries to tear up blankets or pillows. Exactly what you would expect from a distressed mother of any species (including humans). I can only imagine what pigs on farms where they are raised to be eaten feel when they see family members taken away. Their poker faces might not show it, but there is no doubt they are very aware and affected by such events.
So, if you are considering adopting a pig in need from a rescue near you but worry that they won't be as affectionate as other companion animals, please know you have nothing to worry about. I cannot imagine my life without the love I feel for and from my beloved pigs. I can honestly say that I have never felt so close and connected with any other species of companion animal. And if you are worried that adopting an older pig will mean you missed out on key bonding time when they were a piglet, this couldn't be further from the truth. My connection with Pumpkin (she was 5 when we met) is every bit as strong as the bond I have with Charlotte and Millie who I've known since they were 8 weeks old. So, please rescue a pig in need and they will return the favor a million times over in the love they will give you back.
Don't forget to grab your "I Love Pig" bumper sticker in our store!
Bored and Hungry Pigs Can Get Destructive
As I noted in my article "Can Pigs Be Destructive?", pigs definitely have the ability to do some damage when bored, frustrated or hungry. But, I thought the best way to get this message across is through pictures of pigs doing exactly that: being destructive. Of course, these are usually out of the ordinary events. Most of the time, pigs can be very well behaved. And some things are just normal pig behavior. For instance, they love shredding up their blankets and beds to make them better. They don't think of it as destruction... to them it's home improvement. And that has largely been the extent of our pigs' destructive behavior. They've ripped a bunch of blankets and beds. Oh, and the couch, which is technically their bed too.
Now enjoy a pictorial tour though: What Mischievous Pigs Can Do. I've included the story provided by the individuals sharing these wonderful images.
Lizzie Ronsick wrote, "My Rupert gets in my night stand when I don't pick him up at night. He wants me to cuddle him and sometimes I don't wake up to his oink. In turn he knocks everything off of the shelf."
Trish Brown Jones shared, "If you zoom in on the window casings, you can see where the boys have eaten most of them."
"You can see where they’ve eaten my drywall here."
Nicole Rhoades shared, "Only half the destruction after looking for the granola aka crack."
Dawn Braudt Bleeker pointed out, "Joy is hiding behind the desk."
Nic Rich Lily describes that their pigs, "ripped through the sheets to get to the down bed topper...."
Chrystal Lynn Limon points out that the "only thing my Belle has ever destroyed was her bed."
Karen Buehrle Overlin stated that this is "Oliver after he stole a bag of shredded paper."
Elizabeth Keyser shared these pictures of Rosie and Josie's efforts.
Delaine Rangno - "My deck. Everything tossed. Bernard wanted in the house, and I wasn't home."
Leanna Sherfy Myrick points out that, "This used to be covered in lanolium.... Tink, Penny, Tut, and Goblin."
AnnaMarie Klassen Drywall,they have got 4 different spots in 4 different rooms,tell me again why I love my pigs lol
Trish Brown Jones One more for ya! Just came home to this. Oscar ripped the bottom drawer face off my oven tonight. Thank God he’s cute...otherwise I might have gotten upset.
What should be equally clear as the fact that pigs can be destructive is that we, the companion humans to these amazing animals, wouldn't have it any other way. We adore our porcine family members destruction and all.
Ask Yourself These Question Before Adopting a Pig
Are you thinking about getting a mini pig as a companion animal? They make wonderful additions to the family, but there are some things you need to consider before adopting a mini pig. This video can help ensure you make the right choice for you and the pig!
Pig Feeding Advice
The bulk of a mini pig's diet should be made up of mini pig food. Mazuri makes a brand of mini pig food that can be found at most Tractor Supply Company stores. And you can also order food through online retailers like Ross Mills. It is important that you do not feed your pig table scraps or just a random assortment of food. This can lead to undernourishment or to an obese pig. And you want to limit snacks to healthy low calorie treats in limited quantities. As many sites will point out, it is very easy for pigs to gain weight and very hard for them to lose it. So, measure out the food you give your pig after determining the right amount. Mazuri's webpage gives a chart for determining how much food to feed your pig based on their weight and age. And then you can add or subtract based on your pig's activity level. Our piglet Millie is very active and constantly on the go. So, she eats almost the same amount as our 1 year old pig Charlotte who weighs 15 pounds more but is less active. And any piglet under 8 weeks of age should only be drinking their mother's milk.
And never feed your pig animal products. This is not healthy for your pig and can be downright dangerous. Meat contains many zoonotic diseases that lead to early death for your pig. Your adopted pig is a member of your family and you are responsible for giving them a quality life. Sticking to the mini pig food and healthy snacks will ensure that they have the best chance of a long and happy life. Remember, when people talk about how 'pigs will eat anything', they are talking about pigs on farms where the pigs are not going to live more than 6 months. So, the factor of how unhealthy the food is for pigs is not taken into account.
For a list of foods and plants toxic to pigs, visit: Mini Pig Info
The Ultimate Guide to Living with Pet Pigs in Your Home (Part 4)
It seems I meet a dozen people a day that ask me if Millie is a teacup pig or flat out state they are looking to get a teacup pig. And I'm quick to point them in the right direction to finding one. You just go to the pet store, walk past the Unicorn babies, and you should see all the teacup piglets that are free to a good home. My guess is that the average weight of a full grown 'teacup' piglet is around 100-150 pounds. And the more someone pays for a teacup piglet and the smaller the size they are promised, the larger the pig will likely end up.
Yes, teacup pigs are not real. There is no pig that will fit in a teacup when full grown. Based on my research, discussion with people working at rescues and the brilliant resource, Mini Pig Info, pigs under 50 pounds when full grown are typically unhealthy or malnourished. Sure, there will always be the exception, just as there is the occasional human that won't grow past 3 feet tall. But, typically bad breeding practices (over inbreeding leading to genetic disorders) and underfeeding is the most likely reason a pig stays under 50 pounds. So, if you are looking into getting a pig and require that it be a teacup pig, please don't adopt a pig. Rescues are full of 150 pound teacup pigs that are abandoned the minute their parents realize they are a living being that needs love and care regardless of how big they will get.
But, if you are simply looking to adopt a mini pig, should size matter? Only if you have special circumstances in your living situation that make having a larger pig too difficult. Just as some people can fit a cocker spaniel sized dog in their home but not a St. Bernard, some people may be able to home a 100 pound pig but not a 250 pound pig. Otherwise, any sized pig can make a loving house mate. All pigs, regardless of size can make messes, can be destructive and can pose a whole assortment of challenges. But, in terms of the loving, intelligent qualities that make pigs so wonderful to be around, a 600 pound pig like Esther the Wonder pig is no different than our 75 pound Pumpkin. So, if you have a decent size yard and a house that is not overly tiny, the size of the pig you adopt should matter less than the connection you feel with the pig when you visit a rescue to meet the potential pigs for becoming a new member of your family.
Our situation is a bit unique in that we live in a two bedroom condo on the second floor. And there is no way to build a ramp down our winding stairs. So, the only way I can get our pigs in and out is by carrying them down. So, this is something to consider if you live in a situation where stairs are required for getting pigs in and out of the house. Pigs do not like stairs and it can lead to an early onset of arthritis. Again, this is another reason no one should ever buy a piglet. You have no guarantee regarding the size of your pig. And even if a breeder promises to take the pig back, that likely means an unhappy ending for that pig. Rescues or rehoming requests online are the only place anyone should ever get a pig. This will ensure that less pigs end up in rescues, on craigslist or worse euthanized or sadly even in backyard BBQs (yes, this actually happens more often than you'd imagine). Now, my family will do whatever it takes to ensure Millie, Charlotte and Pumpkin spend their lives with us. So, if any of our pigs end up bigger than I can carry, we will move (and have been looking into this just to make life easier for us). But, Pumpkin was a former breeder pig and needed a home and didn't want her to end up euthanized or continuing to be used as a breeder. So, we have made life with pigs in a condo work (Charlotte is her daughter and we asked to keep one of her babies with her when we adopted Pumpkin).
The reality of pigs is, most pigs will be 100-150 pounds. And in most condo and apartment situations, this will not work or not be allowed by the rules of the complex. That being said, if you live in a condo or apartment where pigs would be allowed and you are well informed about all the other factors that go into adopting a pig, we have found life with pigs in our condo to be one of the greatest choices we ever made. They have brightened our life more than we can express. Though, ideally, we'd live in a single family home with a private yard.
In conclusion, the size of a pig shouldn't matter in regards to the benefits your family will receive from having this amazing new family member. The pigs unfortunately abused by animal agriculture are every bit as loving, intelligent and amazing as the smallest pigs (as demonstrated by Esther the Wonder Pig). The only time size should be an issue is when you legally or logistically cannot have a larger pig in your home.
The Ultimate Guide to Living with Pet Pigs in Your Home (Part 3)
Can mini pigs be destructive? Will they chew on things?
Yes, it is as simple as that. Pigs will be pigs. Even our youngest pig Millie at a mere 20 pounds can definitely make a mess or chew up a chord or the stray item when the opportunity presents itself. And our largest pig, Pumpkin, has ripped several holes in our couch. And Charlotte has been known to take down a trash can to search out any edible thing she can find.
Below is Millie snuggled into the stuffing of the couch after Pumpkin ripped hole.
So, if you are very concerned about keeping a flawless house in which things are never damaged or broken, then pigs are not an ideal companion animal for you. Some pigs will attempt to rip up flooring or chew on the walls. This is especially true if the pigs are bored and not provided with adequate stimulation. And most pigs naturally have a rooting instinct. Some pigs have been known to find weakness in flooring and root up portions of the floor. Pigs will need to be provided with an outdoor space where they can root up a yard in places. This clearly will not work in shared yards like in a condo or apartment complex. One way to satisfy a rooting instinct indoors is by providing the pigs with a rooting box. This can contain play balls or smooth stones that your pig can root around in for treats. For many pigs, this will help alleviate their need to root and help protect your flooring.
I must really stress that choosing to adopt a pig is a major life decision. It is not something you should do on a whim. Pigs can live for 20 years or more and become very attached to their families. Abandoning a pig can lead to depression or stress for the pig. Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but you owe it to the pig to make sure you are as well informed as you can be about making this decision.
If you are prepared to take things as they come and work with your pigs when they get a little destructive, the rewards of living with pigs are definitely worth the trade off. Pumpkin, Charlotte, and Millie are three of my best friends in the world. I gladly live with a less than perfect home in exchange for having them around everyday! But, this is definitely not an ideal choice for everyone. And there is no guarantee of how easy or difficult your pig will be. Just like adopting a dog, cat, or child, adopting a pig is a serious choice that should not be made lightly. And just like with dogs and cats, so many pigs out there are in need of homes already. So please adopt, don't shop!
Check Out These Great Photos of Pig Destruction
Part 4: Does the Size of the Mini Pig Matter?
Ultimate Guide to Life With Pigs Part 2
If you haven't read it already, check out Part 1 of this guide.
How Often Will You be Away from Home?
Pigs are extremely social animals. They will bond with you quickly and will want to spend time with you. If you and your family's schedule is such that your pig or pigs will constantly be left alone at home, you should likely avoid having pigs as companion animals. Pigs want consistent feeding times. And they are very curious and with their strong snouts, will likely find their way into trouble if always left alone. If most of their life will be spent stuck in a crate, your pigs will be very unhappy which can lead to aggression or depression.
If you have a fairly consistent schedule or family members that can help out with taking care of a pig companion, this will help ensure you have a happier pig. You may want to crate train your pig or have a room set aside as your pig's private room. This will be a space the pig can go when they feel like being alone. But, also it will be a place you can leave your pig when away from home so that they are not a danger to themselves our your home while you are away. We are able to leave our three pigs out with a 99% chance that they will be snuggled up on the couch when we get home. And it likely helps that we have 3 pigs, and this gives them someone to interact with when we are away. Though, most of the time, there is someone home and likely sneaking some cuddling time with Millie, Pumpkin and Charlotte.
But, when we first brought home Pumpkin and Charlotte, we built an indoor 8'x8' pig pen. And this was ideal as they adjusted to life in our condo. Plus, we were able to adjust to life with pigs while having a safe place for them to cuddle up and have use of a litter-box. Overtime, we realized that we were no longer using it and now the pigs are given free reign in the living room, dinning room and kitchen areas of our house whether we are here or not.
You can find some great ideas here at Mini Pig Info for different types of indoor setups for housing your pigs.
Getting Outside with Your Pigs
One difficulty with living in a condo or an apartment will be access to the outdoors. Clearly, you won't have a private yard that you can fence in. So, harness training will be essential. This is especially true at first when you aren't sure whether your pig will run off. The first day we had Millie at our Condo, she got loose and we spent 20 minutes in 100 degree temperatures trying to get her back in the harness. Pigs can be quite fast, so don't assume you can just catch them if they run off.
If you don't have access to a yard with grass, you will also want to find places you can take your pig nearby. Local parks are usually pet friendly, especially if you demonstrate that your pig is well-behaved and walks on a leash. Charlotte and Millie love to go hiking. When not distracted by acorns, they can keep up quite well with my family. Though, you will have to get used to hearing the phrase, "That's a pig!" Apparently, people do not expect to run into a pig while out on the trail.
And the sooner you start taking your pigs out in public, the quicker they will get used to it. This also helps with socializing your pig so that they are used to meeting new people. All three of our pigs are great around strangers and even Pumpkin, who once seemed like she was distrustful of people (since to her they were the people that took her babies away), now enjoys meeting people and will gladly let strangers pet her.
For Part 3: Can Mini Pigs Be Destructive? Click Here