Not so long ago, keeping pot-bellied pigs as pets is almost unheard of. Pigs were only referred to as farm animals. They were raised as livestock and were no more than a good source of income.
Today, however, with the growing popularity and influence of vegans and vegetarians, people are beginning to see pigs as pets rather than as food.
Their intelligence is now being appreciated; their trainability is acknowledged.
If you are thinking of getting a pot-bellied pig as an addition to your family, here are some tips on how to care for them:
Pot-bellied pigs can weigh anywhere between 100 to 200 pounds. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t stay small for the rest of their lives. They are small when you purchase them, but they continue growing until they are 4 years old.
Healthy pot-bellied pigs are weaned between 6 to 8 weeks old. If you encounter a breeder selling it before 6 weeks, chances are, it will not survive.
They need to start eating solid foods at 3 weeks to make it easier for them to wean off their mother’s milk and transition to solid foods.
Caring for them
Pot-bellied pigs don’t do well in extreme temperatures.
An ideal room temperature for them is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. They don’t sweat; hence, they need to cool down in a process called rooting.
Rooting is a pig’s natural behavior wherein they use their snout to dig through dirt or soil. It comes from their natural instinct to search for food on the ground, and it also helps them regulate their body temperature.
Do not discourage this behavior. Instead, provide them with a rooting box made of wood, then scatter treats and non-toxic toys before covering them with soil.
It will serve as a form of entertainment and an outlet for their rooting activities that will prevent them from being bored and becoming destructive in your home.
They need to be introduced to a healthy diet and you need to be strict about what they eat. Pot-bellied pigs have an insatiable appetite, and they would eat anything that is offered to them.
Their tendency to overeat puts them at risk for obesity, and it is up to you to discipline their eating habits.
Thankfully, there are foods for them that are readily sold in the market.
You must feed them with pellets that are specifically formulated for pot-bellied pigs, not the ones that are meant for farm pigs.
Pot-bellied pigs need to have their hooves regularly trimmed.
Normally, their hooves need trimming only once a year, but it can vary depending on your pig’s activities and the kind of ground they walk on.
Hoof trimming can also be tricky, as you need to put them in a trance-like state to be able to perform this.
A fork or a back scratcher is used to scratch the middle portion of their body, which can give them an effect similar to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).
This gives them a pleasured relaxation, enabling you and the vet to inspect their body and to perform necessary tasks for hygiene care.
Just like any other pet, pigs need dental care as well.
You can use a washcloth or a regular toothbrush to clean their teeth and massage their gums. The younger they become accustomed to it, the easier it would be to brush their teeth as they grow older.
However, do not use human toothpaste that contains fluoride and xylitol as these ingredients could be toxic to them.
Opt for regular pet toothpaste found in pet stores. Brush their teeth as often as you would bathe them.
Having pot-bellied pigs as pets is a growing trend today.
However, your reason for acquiring them shouldn’t be because you are simply following a trend, but because you truly value their welfare and respect their lives.
They are very intelligent creatures and make the sweetest companions.
Hopefully, in the near future, all pigs will be treated the same way as dogs, and they would be loved and cared for as part of the family.