A few miniature breeders have successfully selectively bred their miniature pigs to a mature weight of 25 to 40 pounds and a height of 13 to 14 inches, hoof to shoulder. These are micro mini pigs, also called pocket pigs and pixie pigs. The smaller size of the pigs makes for an ideal indoor pet; no shedding, hypo-alergenic, intelligent, easily trained and affectionate.
A miniature pig (or mini pig) is a breed of pig first developed and used for medical research or for use as a pet. Miniature pigs weigh between 50 pounds to 75 pounds when fully grown, while farm pigs may weigh more than 700 pounds. They were first used for medical research in Europe before being introduced to the United States in the 1980s. Since then, the animals have been used in studies by scientists around the world, and have also risen in popularity as companion animals.
In the 1960's, pigs that grew to be 150–200 pounds were sent to zoos in Western nations and were used for medical research in the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source of organs for organ transplantation. These small pigs were easier to work with than the larger farm pigs, which typically reach weights of 300-500 pounds. Pot-bellied pigs also became a fixture in many zoological parks where their small stature, sway backs, and potbellies attracted the attention of visitors. The purchase of a few potbellied pigs by wealthy pet owners helped start a new trend in pet pigs.
The popularity of miniature pigs grew in the 1980s, with pet miniature pigs appearing everywhere from New York apartment complexes to small hobby farms.
Miniature pigs, also known as micro pigs, pocket pigs, and or teacup pigs, have seen an increase in popularity as pets. They are intelligent animals and can be house-trained. They do not shed and tend to keep themselves clean.
Micro pigs can and do make great pets, but the owner must make the commitment to train, give of their time and affection for the animals to reach their full potential as indoor pets.
Be aware that some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits; a pig is usually considered a farm animal regardless of its size. As well, many small animal vets will not treat pigs. Since these animals have a life span of 15 to 20 years, they require long term commitment. Due to their ability to bond, combined with their need for attention, people who have limited time for a pet may find a pig far more than they can handle. Additionally, if pet pigs are not properly trained when they are young, just like a dog they can strive for dominance and become undisciplined.
What is a Teacup Pig?
1. Be sure you can legally own a teacup pig where you live.
If you're thinking of adopting a teacup pig, research the laws in your county, town and state to ensure that owning such an animal is even legal. Too many people miss this step, and end up finding themselves in court for the right to keep their teacup pet, even though it clearly violates local zoning laws. All it takes is one nosy neighbor to report you and notify authorities of your unauthorized "livestock."
2. Be aware of how big teacup pigs really get.
The name "teacup pig" is denotes that a the miniature piglet is born, it is so small that it fits in a teacup. It is true that teacup pigs do not get as big as farm pigs, which easily can grow to be 1,000 pounds. But a teacup pig will not fit inside a teacup for long. They grow fast during the first 6 months of their lives, and are densely muscled, so a mature 40 pound mini pig will be about the size of a medium-sized dog and will be shorter than the dog.
3. Be aware of how long teacup pigs live.
A teacup pig is a long-term pet. They outlive dogs. They outlive cats. They won't outlive you, as a parrot or a tortoise could, but with their lifespan of 12-15 years, you're signing up for a significant commitment.
4. Be aware of how much a teacup pig costs.
Teacup pigs are expensive. Obviously, you won't be able to simply visit an animal shelter and rescue a teacup pig like you could a dog or a cat. You'd have to buy your pig from a teacup-pig breeder, and the adoption alone is going to an average of $1,000. And while spaying or neutering a dog or cat may cost a few hundred bucks, getting a teacup pig fixed is a more complicated affair, and you'll need to find a veterinarian who is experienced with the anatomy of miniature pigs.
5. Have your teacup pig spayed or neutered.
You really, really should spay or neuter your pets not matter what, but the truth is that many pet owners don't bother fixing their cats and dogs, and while that's not good for them. As there are drawbacks with living with unneutered dogs and cats, it is recommended that male miniature pigs be neutered to avoid musky smells, aggressive behavior and tusks.
6. You can train a teacup pig like you would train a dog.
One of the great things about pigs is their high intelligence level. Pigs are very smart, at least as smart as dogs, and that means they have a similar capacity for training. Take a positive-reinforcement approach to training your teacup piglet, using treats as rewards for tasks and tricks performed correctly. Read our guide to dog training for some strategies.
7. You can litter train a teacup pig, it's easy to do because pigs are naturally clean animals. They will pick a place for the toilet area and "go" there, while keeping the rest of the area clean. Litter training starts early, as young as 3 weeks of age. These tiny animals will jump into their litter pans and keep their bedding clean and dry. This learned behavior carries over into their adult years. Pigs can also be trained to go outside to use the bathroom. Simply go to the door, call your pig to you, say "go potty" while letting him out the door. The pig will learn the command quickly and will even use a pet door.
8. You should exercise a teacup pig like you would exercise a dog.
Thinking of your teacup pigs as similar to a dog is a good basic plan. They're about as big as a dog, they're as smart as dogs, you can train one like a dog and you should exercise them like dogs. In other words, take them for daily walks so they get the exercise they need, as well as the opportunity to eliminate outside.
9. Give your teacup pig blankets.
Teacup pigs love blankets. Lots of them. They want to dig under them and sleep wrapped up in them and build blanket forts all day long. Pigs are born to root, and blankets provide an outlet for that instinct inside your home. And we're not talking about just one security blanket. Have blankets ready anywhere your pig likes to hang out: in its crate or playpen, on the couch, a favorite corner somewhere, even in the car.
10. Give your teacup pig a kiddie pool.
Pigs need plenty of water, not just for drinking, but also for playing in. A children's pool is the one item other than blankets that no teacup-pig owner should be without. Wading in a pool of water will help your pig regulate its body temperature when it's hot outside. Sometimes, if it's really hot out, pigs will lay down in the pool or flop over on their sides.
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