Types of Miniature Pigs

Despite their intelligence and socially gregarious nature, your average farm pig makes a terrible pet. For one thing, they’re huge, easily reaching hundreds of pounds and often topping out over 1,000 pounds when fully grown. For another, they have appetites to match their gargantuan sizes. Enter miniature pigs as a family friendly solution.

First introduced in the 1980s, the miniature Vietnamese potbellied teacup pig was not intended as a household pet but as stock for zoological gardens. So popular were these diminutive animals that a pet trade soon sprung up around them. The original breeding stock imported by Keith Connell, a Canadian zoo director was soon complimented by another line of potbellies imported to Texas by Keith Leavitt. Taken separately they represent the Lea and Connell lines but are largely responsible for the available pigs in the US today. Subsequent imports have left prospective owners with a nice diversity of options listed below.

Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs – These miniature pigs represent probably the most popular breed adopted today. They have an appealing appearance and docile disposition. Their exaggerated potbellies and swayed backs (a sign of overfeeding in other animals) are completely normal and healthy. Their average height is about 14 inches and their average weight about 50 pounds.

Juliani (Painted Miniature) Pig – These little guys are truly diminutive, averaging about 10-16 inches and weighing 15-50 pounds. Like the potbellied pig, they have a gentle disposition. They also love to play with toys.

African Pygmy or Guinea Hog – Truly Lilliputian, these miniature pigs weigh in at an average of 20-40 pounds and reach an average height of 14 to 22 inches. They are active, alert and highly intelligent. In contrast to the potbellied miniature pigs, African Pygmies have straight backs. They bond quickly to their humans and love to be close to their favorite people.

Yucatan (Mexican Hairless) Pig – These mini pigs come in both a small and not so small model. The larger breed can run upwards of 200 pounds while the smaller variety averages between 50 and 100 pounds. They grow to 16-24 inches in height.

Ossabaw Island Pig – Averaging 14-20 inches and 25-90 pounds, Ossabaw’s have a fantastic temperament, bond well with humans and are very bright. These guys live up to 25 years so you’re practically adopting a child and raising him through college as much as buying a pet.…

Bringing piggy Home

Congratulations! You’ve picked your piggy and are ready to bring her home! Or are you? There’s more to just opening your front door, setting your new pet down and letting her have free run of the place. Do so at your peril. Keep reading for just a handful of considerations.

If miniature pigs are the pet for you there are some things you need to do to prepare your home to ensure it is pig-friendly. As mentioned in Deciding if Miniature Pigs are the Right Pet for You, careful introduction to the other members (pets) of your family is a definite must. Introductions are best handled by a partition which allows your pets to become familiar with the sight and smell of your new addition but without allowing actual contact.

It is also essential that you have a nursery ready for your miniature pigs. Pigs aren’t big fans of change so it’s best to have this ready in advance. The nursery should include a bed, blankets and towels in which your pig can burrow, a water bowl, toys and a play-pen. Yep, I said toys. Miniature pigs love toys.

The outdoor areas in which you pig will roam and graze should be fenced to prevent your pet from wandering off. Grass on which it may feed should be chemical-free. You would also do well to have a small area sectioned off as a pig pen where miniature pigs can be held particularly if you have a large yard.

No, you don’t need mud. Pigs aren’t dirty creatures. This is a myth created by us because we tend to keep our pigs outdoors in less sanitary conditions. They are actually very clean animals. That said, they do eat like pigs. Miniature pigs are utterly passionate about food. Speaking of food…

Be sure you’ve purchased high-quality feed for your miniature pigs and have some raw vegetables (they love them) on hand as a treat. Pigs require roughage in their diets. Never feed your pigs table scraps as they will learn to beg and those sharp, hard piggy hooves will really hurt when he starts jumping up every time you sit down for a meal. Also, don’t let piggy become familiar with your primary food storage area (the refrigerator) as they are bright enough to open the door and self-feed. Feed your miniature pigs on a set schedule to prevent overeating.

Finally, your new pet(s) can be housebroken. Until they are, though, do not leave them unattended. Housebreaking miniature pigs to use a litter box or to do their business outside will require patience and effort on your part just as it would with any other animal.…

Training a Mini Pig to use a Litter Box

Tammy left a comment over in our post on training mini pigs to climb stairs. Tammy is having problems litter training her miniature pig and that’s hardly the first time I’ve heard that lament with miniature pigs and other animals. Compounding the problem is that Tammy’s mini pig also likes to eat its litter! Oh my. Rather than write an extended comment in response, I thought it might be best to devote an entire post to the topic as I’m sure there are others out there with the same problem.

Tammy, your real problem here is that your pig is eating litter. If it is the clumping type, this could cause very serious digestive issues for your pig. I strongly recommend against commercial litter. Use pine shavings. If you absolutely must use commercial litter, never use the kind that clumps. I’ll go into alternatives to cat litter later in this post.

Believe it or not, even the most litter box friendly pet, the cat, isn’t born knowing how to use a litter box. Cats actually learn to use a litter box from their mothers. Absent that, they must be trained by their humans. The good news is that pigs have some habits that can work in your favor when it comes to litter training. They prefer to do their business in specific locations, for one thing.

 

Training a Mini Pig to use a Litter Box

Tammy’s problem is that her mini pig would rather eat the litter than use it for its intended purpose. So the first step is to try to break her pig of that habit. The next is to try to teach it what the box is for. We might actually be able to kill two birds with one stone here, Tammy. Again, before we start, never use clumping litter for your mini pigs.read more information about training a micro pigs at http://miniaturepigsguide.com/help-miniature-pig-wont-go-stairs/

Start by collecting some of your pig’s feces from outside or wherever it did its business and put that in the litter box. The presence of feces in the litter will hopefully dissuade your pig from using the litter box as a buffet while also getting the point across that the litter box is where poop belongs! If your pig eats around the feces, try to put a fairly generous amount of piggy’s poop in the litter so there aren’t any notable bare patches on which he or she can dine.

If piggy still eats from the box, try sprinkling the zest from a lemon (the peel, not actual lemon juice) over the top of the litter. If your pig enjoys the taste of citrus peel, skip that step and try a commercial bitter product such as Bitter Apple spray. Try using a non-clumping litter and spray Bitter Apple over the surface. Mini pigs have sensitive noses and the smell alone may turn your pig off of the idea of eating its litter.

Tammy mentioned that she has also tried various litters without luck. Apparently her pig does not have the most discerning taste in the world. But remember that you aren’t limited to commercial litter. Sand, pine wood shavings, even shredded newspaper can all serve as absorbent substitutes for commercial litter and may be less appetizing to a mini pig. Keep experimenting. Though some options may mean more frequent litter box …

Help! My Miniature Pig Won’t Go Up or Down the Stairs!

I had a chance encounter over the weekend with the owner of a miniature pig. I sparked up a conversation with the owner (Karen O. of Virginia) and doted on her porcine pal (Valentine) for a bit. When it came up that I run a blog on miniature pigs, Karen exclaimed with joy, “Oh! Great! Do you know how I can teach Val to use the stairs? She won’t climb up or descend down the stairs unless I carry her.”

It’s a common lament that can lead to considerable frustration especially when the owner is a little thing like Karen and the pig has grown to a compact 50+ pounds. I nodded sagely and then, without cracking a smile, told her to install a water slide.

After letting her stare at me as if I were an alien for a few seconds, I laughed, swore I was just kidding and let her know that the two solutions to her problem are to 1) cater to a miniature pig’s greatest love and 2) exercise patience.

I went on to ask if her pig had a favorite treat (turns out Val loves celery) and suggested she train her by setting her at the top of the stairs and placing bits of celery leading down the stairs in a follow-the-bread-crumbs approach. Step two is to leave her alone, be patient and let Val’s passion for crunchy veggies do the rest. I recommended this process should be repeated several times a day for as long as it takes while gradually reducing the amount of celery used until Val happily trots down the stairs on her own without the incentive of food.read more information about training a micro pigs by clicking here

 

Help! My Miniature Pig Won’t Go Up or Down the Stairs!

Once Val is comfortable heading down the stairs, train her to go up them as well using the same technique.

I warned Karen that it may be some time before Val’s comfort level makes a fear of stair climbing a thing of the past, but that catering to her love of celery and exercising patience while she learns is a proven method to help get past hurdles such as this.

It’s important to note that Valentine is big enough to navigate the risers of Karen’s stairs. If your own miniature pig has this problem but is particularly young and small, a jaunt to the hardware store may be in order. Build yourself a small set of stairs. The stairs should have a shorter than usual rise (the part that goes up) and a wider than usual run (the platform part you stand on). Place your custom mini-stairs against a platform, put your mini pig on the platform and then follow the bread-crumb technique above with your pig’s favorite treat.

For those wondering why miniature pigs balk at traveling up and down stairs, it likely has to do with poor flexibility and no real natural or instinctive climbing incentives. Without the agility and flexibility enjoyed by cats and dogs, stairs can be a real challenge. With that in mind, be prepared for your piggy to slip or take a tumble and be on standby to help catch her fall. I’d suggest keeping her harnessed and on a leash until she gets the hang of things but she may simply ignore the food and …

Can Pot-Bellied Pigs Develop and Suffer From Indigestion?

The simple answer to this question is…YES!! Just as people develop indigestion (from eating too much or eating too much of the wrong foods) pot-bellied pigs can too! It’s a fact, pot-bellied pigs LOVE to indulge (after all, they aren’t called pigs for nothing!). In all seriousness, no pig will pass up an opportunity to chow down. Some pigs even learn how to open a cupboard door or kitchen drawer just to get to that delicious bag of pig food (and if it just so happens the dog food is stored in the same location…BONUS…they will eat that too!).

Pigs will eat just about anything…which is why their feeding schedules and diet should be closely monitored. With that being said, if your pig happens to get into the kitchen pantry and goes on an eating frenzy, it is very possible that he or she will develop indigestion.

 

Can Pot-Bellied Pigs Develop and Suffer From Indigestion?

Indigestion occurs when a pig’s stomach is over-full. Just as a child develops a stomach ache after eating too much candy or junk food…a pig can develop the same type of symptoms. A pig with indigestion may walk with an arched back. They may also have trouble sleeping and getting comfortable. A piggy with a really bad case of indigestion may moan and refuse to walk until they feel better.read more information about teacup pigs at http://miniaturepigsguide.com/bringing-piggy-home

Treatment for piggy indigestion is fairly simple. Withhold food for twelve to twenty-four hours and if you wish, give your pot-belly a dose of Mylanta or Mylicon. PLEASE read the label so that you give your pig the proper dose. Dosing is determined by weight. If after a couple of days your pig doesn’t seem to be improving, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order.

Though a case of indigestion may cause your pig to be uncomfortable for a day or so…the good news is he should get better rather quickly and will once again be begging and rooting for food and goodies. As previously mentioned, it is a good idea to monitor your pig’s diet and feeding schedule…and if necessary, put a lock on the pantry door!…

Picking your Pig

As mentioned in the Miniature Pigs Guide post on Deciding if miniature pigs are the right pets for you, a good vet with pig experience (and I’m not talking about the men she’s dated) can come in handy here. A pre-screening by your vet or certification from the breeder’s vet will help you pick the healthiest pig for your home.

Your pig of choice should be active and energetic, not too fat, have clean, straight teeth, clear eyes and his or her hooves should be trimmed and free of damage. But there’s more to picking the right pet than just its general health considerations

Be sure to spend time with miniature pigs you’re considering as pets. Temperament is a very important consideration. Like dogs, pigs that have not been socialized can bring a host of problems to the household. If the pig you are considering is aggressive or skittish, consider a different pig. Caught young enough, these social concerns can be readily overcome.

 

Picking your Pig

Also, never make an impulse purchase when it comes to pets (miniature pigs or otherwise). Gifts, or adoptions/purchases made solely on the basis of cuteness are likely to result in later regrets. A pig will want to become part of your family, eager to greet you with squeals of delight when you come home and anxious to sleep with its head on your lap just like a dog. If you aren’t sure you can commit to the adoption of a new family member (not just a pet) then a miniature pig is not the right pet for you.

Remember that there is more to picking a pig than you might originally think. Miniature pigs come with a host of special considerations unique to them. Just because you know everything there is to know about the care and feeding of dogs or cats does not qualify you to be a good piggy parent. It’s worth repeating – do your research in advance and do it thoroughly.

Decide if you want a male or female pig and then decide how soon you can get it fixed – more on that in a future post on Bringing Piggy Home. Also decide what types of miniature pigs best fit your lifestyle. We’ll cover the different “models” in our next post – Types of Miniature Pigs but for now, recognize that pigs come in different sizes and some can live as long as 25 years! That’s a serious commitment so make sure be you know what you’re getting in advance.…

Spaying and Neutering

In our previous post on Types of Miniature Pigs we talked about different breeds, their temperament and average sizes. While that’s certainly an important consideration, there’s more to picking miniature pigs than breed alone.

One thing that’s sure to get you into trouble is failure to consider the more, um, romantic nature of miniature pigs. As with most things in nature, procreation is an imperative for these animals and you’ll be setting yourself up for some unpleasant experiences if you don’t take this into consideration.

A good rule of thumb with any large household pet is that spaying and neutering makes for a better household companion. Unless you are purchasing miniature pigs with breeding in mind (and have the facilities outside your home to accommodate the effort) you’ll want to spay or neuter your mini pig sooner rather than later.

 

Spaying and Neutering

Unfixed males (boars) will eventually reach sexual maturity. Two concerns come immediately to mind. The first is that boars produce an odor through glands that is utterly repulsive to anything but a lady pig. The smell is on their breath and body and will eventually be on everything you own including furniture and clothing. Early neutering by a qualified vet with pig experience is essential unless you plan to breed your pig. If you plan to breed Wilbur, you’ll want him to be an out-of-house pet. Trust me on this. The other concern with unfixed males is that they will rub against, mark and become amorous with animate objects – your dog, cat, children or legs – and inanimate objects – shoes, blankets, pillows, furniture, the kitchen sink – with insane frequency.

If choosing a female, the same rule applies. You’ll want to get the little lady spayed as unfixed gilts (a female pig that has not had a litter) and sows (female pigs which have had one or more litters) come with their own set of undesirable habits. Female miniature pigs, despite recognizing there are no boars around, will begin to mark everything they can find in an effort to lure a willing fellah into their midst. This isn’t something you want done to your furniture or favorite shoes.…