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.
Bringing a Pet Pig into Your Home
Had you asked me if I thought I'd ever live with three pigs in a condo, my answer would have been to laugh at the mere thought. For one, most apartment and condo complexes have rules prohibiting certain types and sizes of animals. And there is still the misconception that pigs are dirty animals that will hurt property values by being destructive and smelly.
But, we have found that our three 'mini' pigs have made the perfect companion animals for our condo life. In fact, we find that our pigs are often less work and needy than our Yorkie Emmie. Keep in mind, that just like with dogs, all pigs have their own personalities and volume levels. Much of your experience will depend on your exact situation and the pig that you adopt (and adopting an older pig will ensure you don't end up with a 300 pound pig in your condo/apartment). We assume that we have been quite fortunate to have 3 rather easy going pigs. Also remember that at the time of writing this, 2 of our pigs are still young and not full sized. And much of the advice in this article will hold true for people living in single family homes as well.
The First Step
The first thing you need to do is check your town and complex ordinances to make sure that you can legally have a pig living with you where you are. If you find that it is currently not permitted, there are resources available to help get ordinances changed. Often, ordinances were written before smaller pigs were known to make great companion animals. And the other things that I consider being part of the first step is preparing yourself for the fact that most pigs will end up being much larger than 75 pounds (the size of our full grown pig Pumpkin). For more information on what to expect in regards to size, click here.
Are Their Any Messes?
Pigs are very clean animals. Part of their instinct is not to use the bathroom where they live. This goes back to the time when they lived in the wild. Using their living space as a bathroom would have resulted in predators being able to locate the herd (sounder) of pigs. So, most pigs have a relatively easy time figuring out how to use a litter-box or hold it until they are outside away from where they sleep and eat. All three of our pigs were very quick to learn to use their liter-box. Pumpkin had lived outside for most of her first five years of life and easily transitioned to using a liter-box. And at 6 weeks old, it was actually Charlotte who may have taught her mom to use the litter-box. Upon arriving in our condo for the first time, she immediately walked into our makeshift litter-box. Her mom's (Pumpkin) first attempt to use the litter-box was perfect except that the tray we were using was too short. Her back end hung just over the side and we quickly learned that Noah had nothing on us in regards to dealing with floods.
It was at that point that we invested in a Great Dane sized Sky Kennel and used the bottom as a litter-box. This allowed Pumpkin to fit her whole body in with plenty of space to turn around and back into a corner to use the bathroom. And since then, we have had maybe one or two accidents which can likely be written off as Charlotte simply being a piglet with a tiny bladder. And Millie had almost no issue with learning to use the litter-box either. Now that Charlotte is 1 year old, she and her mom usually hold it until I carry them outside. And Millie seems to have flawless control in regards to using her giant litter-box.
A Video of Noisy Little Millie
Aren't Pigs Noisy?
Pumpkin and Charlotte are both surprisingly quiet pigs. But Millie can be quite loud. She is constantly making low grunting noises while wandering around. Though, these noises likely cannot be heard through walls. But, she does have a strange habit of having to announce her arrival when she jumps up on the couch to join us or her adopted sister and mom. She can make as much noise as a whole farm of pigs. We are fortunate in that our neighbors swear they don't hear a thing. But, this could be an issue for people living in places with thinner walls or more sensitive neighbors.
One other issue you might run into is that some pigs absolutely hate being carried. Pumpkin and Charlotte will both allow me to pick them up with minimum noise or resistance. In fact, Charlotte will let me carry her for miles and just relax and get comfortable. Millie is a different story. She squeals like a fire siren every time she is picked up. So, if you think that you may be needing to carry your pig down stairs (more on that later), this is something to factor in when considering adopting a pig.
Though, keep in mind that just as most dogs will occasionally make noise, it cannot be expected that pigs will be silent. So, neighbors should be able to handle as much noise from a pig as they do from a dog. It would be quite strange if the occasionally barking and whining from dogs could be tolerated but pigs were given no leeway at all. I believe the best approach is just communicating with your neighbors and assuring them that you are not going to create a situation that disrupts their lives in any significant way.
One way to avoid ending up with a extremely noisy pig is by rescuing a pig. And I cannot stress enough that no one should ever buy a piglet from a breeder. Their are endless pigs out their at rescues needing homes. And it does not require having a piglet to form a strong bond with your companion. Pumpkin was 5 years old when we adopted her and she is now one of my best friends. She cuddles up with us on the couch and has become quite attached to us. And one of the best parts of adopting a rescue pig is that you can get to know their personality before adopting them. This will ensure that you don't end up in a situation where you will need to re-home your pig. Rescues can help ensure that the pig you adopt will be a good fit for your lifestyle and living situation. They will know which pigs are talkers and which pigs are the more thoughtful quiet type.