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!
Top pig health concerns answered by a veterinarian
Veterinarian Dr. Kristie took the time to answer 10 questions we had about Mini Pig Health. If you've ever wondered if your pig is a healthy weight, what the health benefits of spaying and neutering pigs are, or when you should seek immediate medical care for your pig, this video has answers to all that and more. And the best part is that Dr. Kristie specializes in mini pig/pot bellied pig health. So, she is speaking from years of experience working with mini pigs.
Mini Pig Toy - Do It Yourself Instructions
Are your pigs getting bored during the cold winter days? Need a way to entertain them. Try building this new toy. It only took about 30 minutes to put together and hopefully will keep your pigs entertained for hours.
The idea of this toy is to create a rotating soda bottle on a wooden tube that your pigs can push around to try and turn upside down to drop some treats. Check out this video to see how it works and how it is easily built with simple supplies from Home Depot.
Pieces of wood you need:
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
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.