This Little Piggy

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Debra Lueck]

Angela’s family has two pet pigs, “our sweet boy, Pickles (pictured above with her daughter) and Cucumber (right), which we are adopting.” (Courtesy photos)

MINI PIGS. IT’S THE NEWEST PET CRAZE. (And be forewarned, ‘mini’ isn’t always so mini.) A mini Juliana, Vietnamese Potbelly, mini Mangalitsa, and Kune-Kune can start out at only 8 to 12 ounces, but once they reach maturity, can reach upwards of 80 to 200 pounds! With a height ranging from 15 to 22 inches and length from 22 to 28 inches long, ‘mini’ can seem like a misnomer, but when you consider a farm pig can weigh upwards of 600 pounds when they’re ready to go to market, these cute little guys are mini! So when you see a picture of a cute little porker and think ‘I want one of those’, keep that in mind.

Pigs can make great pets in the right household. They are extremely intelligent, can be housebroken, and are very social animals. They are also like a toddler needing supervision, boundaries, and rules to keep them out of mischief. They do well with other companion animals but may try to hog the spotlight and your attention.

As indoor pets, they need sufficient space and ventilation, much like a dog. The outdoor pig will need adequate shelter from the elements in both winter and summer. Cold weather below 30 degrees will require extra dry bedding, while hot, dry days will mean providing them a way to cool off—pigs can only sweat through their nose! A little mud bath on a hot day will put your piggy in hog heaven. Pigs also require a lot of vet care, hoof trimming, and a diet of fresh veggies and grains. They like coconut oil rubs, according to pet-pig owner, Angela Archuletta, who also notes their sense of smell is 2,000 greater than a human’s.

Cucumber and Angela.

Although pigs don’t reach their full maturity for up to five years, they can be bred as young as three months. This allows unscrupulous breeders to show you small, cute parents that haven’t reached their full size. If you’re pig shopping, your best bet is to ask the age of the parents and ask to see the paperwork that confirms it. It’s also a good idea to learn as much as you can about the breed before making the decision to add a pig to your family.

Little pigs are advertized with a variety of names breeders use to get your attention. The micro, mini, teacup, pixie, or nano piglet you purchase for $250 to $1500 isn’t likely to stay that tiny size you paid for, no matter what the breeder has described. So be prepared for your baby to grow from a cute little piglet to a portly teenager over time.

“Pigs can make great pets in the right household. They are extremely intelligent, can be housebroken, and are very social animals.”

After the cuteness wears off (generally after a year or two), many pet pigs are abandoned or turned into rescues and shelters because the pet parent wasn’t able to handle a mature porker or a neighbor has turned them into officials for owning a ‘farm animal’ in a residential neighborhood. Pigs, no matter their size, are considered livestock and are illegal as house pets in some municipalities, so check your local ordinances.

If you still think a piggy pet is for you, do your homework first. You are committing to your pig’s lifetime, which can range from 14 to 20 years. Before you buy, look for a reputable breeder—or better yet, find a good rescue at a shelter. Learn what you need to know at online sites like www.americanminipigassociation.com and talk to other pig owners, for your sake and the little piggy’s.