Pot Bellied Pigs
You see a cute little piglet in a pet store. You’ve never thought of having a pig as a pet, but it’s so cute that you can almost begin to understand why someone would want to have a pot-bellied pig! As you fawn over this adorable piglet, make sure you understand the responsibilities involved in owning a pot-bellied pig.
Pot-bellied pigs originated in Southeast Asia. This is why they are actually properly called ‘Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs’. This type of pig is still found in the mountains of Vietnam, and is kept for meat. The Vietnamese pot-bellied pig naturally has black hair and is quite a bit smaller than the pink European and North American varieties of meat pigs that we are used to seeing here.
Apart from size, pot-bellied pigs also look different than their overseas cousins. They tend to have a wrinkled face, small ears, short snout, and straight tail. And, of course, they have a sway back and pot belly! Pet pot-bellied pigs have been cross-bred with other pigs to produce a variety of colours.
After looking at the cute little piglet, you have to remember one thing. Just as a puppy grows from tiny to huge, so does a piglet. Make sure that you will be happy with your pig even after it passes out of the ‘cute’ stage. Pot-bellied pigs are big! Although they are generally the size of a medium-sized dog (think, Labrador Retriever), they are much heavier. A pot-bellied pig can tip the scales at up to 300 pounds!
To dispel some myths, pigs are not dirty. They are actually very clean animals. This has to do, in part, with the fact that pigs are like intelligent dogs. They are not dumb barnyard animals. They are, in fact, incredibly inquisitive and social. Just like a dog, they need attention and amusement; they easily get bored. You essentially need to toddler-proof your house, because pet pigs will get into anything and everything!
This is why it is very important that you do your research before deciding to get a pot-bellied pig. They are much more complex and needy than you would imagine at first. Just like a dog, they need daily walking. In fact, they almost need it more, because pigs are lazy! Pot-bellied pigs have been bred to be calm and docile, and therefore will not do more exercise than you make them do. Therefore, you will need to walk your pig daily. Thankfully, they are easily trained to walk on a leash.
In fact, your pig is very easily trained to do many things. Pigs can be trained to use a litter box, or to go to the bathroom outside, like dogs. Because they are so intelligent, they learn tricks very quickly. Pigs make interactive and challenging pets! You will never get tired of the depth of personality that your pig has. They are tricksters, playmates, and companions.
Your pot-bellied pig will need a veterinarian. That is not as simple as it sounds, because very few veterinarians that deal with pets have experience with this species. Make sure you search around and contact a veterinarian who will be willing to do routine services on a pot-bellied pig, and who will be willing to treat your pig in an emergency. Routine services include vaccinations, hoof trimming, and tusk trimming in males. Females and males need to be spayed or neutered; unneutered males can be smelly and aggressive.
There will be other issues to take into consideration. Pigs, naturally, are very prone to obesity. A potential owner will have to look carefully for proper food; many pig foods out there have too many calories and not enough forage. Forage for pigs is like salad and fibre for humans.
In addition, pigs should not be left alone with pet dogs, due to the natural predator-prey relationship. Also, make sure you look into the laws in your area, as pot-bellied pigs may be considered ‘livestock’ and may not be allowed.
This is only a short introduction to the history and personalities of pot-bellied pigs. These wonderful creatures are still very uncommon pets, and perhaps for a good reason. Although they are very rewarding, they are demanding of time and attention, and an owner will need more knowledge/research than an owner of an average dog or cat. If you do decide that a pot-bellied pig is right for you, you are looking forward to about fifteen years of pure entertainment and companionship!
By Ashley O’driscoll – Pets.ca writer