It is terribly unfortunate, and highly unfair, that pigs have gained the reputation for being dirty, disgusting animals. In actual fact, these gentle, intelligent creatures are social, kind, loving and naturally very clean. Many individuals have turned to pigs as the ideal pet, especially since they can be house and leash trained. They are very easy to maintain physically, usually requiring only one vet visit a year for vaccinations and hoof trimmings. Their hair is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed, so individuals who are allergic to cats and dogs often find they can get along perfectly well with pigs. Furthermore, they will never roll in their own feces or bring home dead animals in the up to twenty years they live with their owner. However, choosing to adopt a pet pig should never be an impulsive decision, as these unique animals have special needs that one must consider.
Things to Consider With Pet Pigs
The very first step one must take when considering to buy a pet pig is to determine whether it is legal to own one in their area. Pigs are considered exotic pets, and because they are often found in big herds where disease easily spreads, certain zoning laws can prevent pig ownership in certain areas of the country. Once one has determined that it is legal to own a pet pig in their neighborhood, the following points should be carefully considered:
1. Pigs are highly intelligent. A pig’s brain is ranked among the most developed among all animals, following closely behind dolphins. This means that they can be easily house trained and can even perform tricks. They are highly motivated by food, and so will eagerly perform just about anything asked of them in order to obtain more food. They are highly socially dependent and advanced in communication and expression. However, this does mean that they are demanding pets and that one cannot simply give them food and let them out a few times a day–they may very well turn their boredom and intelligence towards undesirable ends.
2. Pigs are incredibly curious. When not engaged in eating, playing or interacting with others, pigs will spend much of their time searching the ground with their nose. Their instinctive curiosity drives them to explore, especially since they have very poor vision and a very strong sense of smell that can search out things a full twenty-five feet below the ground. They have an excellent memory and will not give up easily on a given course, which does mean that they can be purposefully manipulative in order to gain the rewards they most seek–which is normally food.
3. Pigs can be destructive. Between a pig’s intelligence and natural curiosity, one can come home to find opened doors, overturned trashcans, torn up carpets and flooring, toppled plants and missing drywall. Pigs need companionship and a recognized leader to stay focused and busy, otherwise they will name themselves leader and do as they please. That said, their rooting habits simply cannot be broken and will absolutely result in a messy yard or home that one must accept if they choose to have a pet pig.
4. Pigs cannot cope with heat or stress. Their relatively inactive lifestyles and short, stout bodies mean that a pig’s tiny lungs are easily damaged by lung infections. Pneumonia can be brought on by unpleasant weather or stress and can quickly take a pig’s life. Furthermore, pigs are not able to sweat in order to regulate their body temperature, and so have to find other ways to stay cool. They will need a place to wallow–whether a mud hole or a kiddie pool in the backyard.
5. Pigs need a rich and varied diet. Pigs who have regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to root as severely as pigs who have a less satisfying diet. It is vitally important that pet pigs are not fed food that is intended for slaughter pigs or other farm animals.
6. Pigs need dry and sheltered sleeping spots. From the time they are born, piglets love to burrow into a deep pile of hay in order to stay warm and safe. Adult pigs continue to indulge in this habit, and are happiest when they have a dry and sheltered sleeping spot they can burrow safely into. It is important not to use sawdust in a pig’s bedding, as this can lead to respiratory difficulties.
Owning a pet pig can be quite a unique and enjoyable experience–for both pig and owner–as long as one is well-prepared for all it entails.