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When most people think of their ideal pet a certain breed of dog
or cat instantly comes to mind. However, for those that love more
exotic pets and are willing to put in a little more time and effort
a pot-bellied pig can be an ideal choice.
"Pot-bellied pigs, including mini and micro pigs, can make good
indoor and outdoor pets," said Philippa Sprake, Clinical Assistant
Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences (CVM). "Pigs are social animals and each has
their own personality." While pigs are unbelievably intelligent and
undeniably adorable, as seen here, there are a few things
pet-owners should know before bringing little Wilbur home to
The first thing future owners should do is check with their
local homeowners association as well as their home's zoning
regulations to ensure that pigs can be kept on the property. Pigs
can be extremely noisy, especially when adapting to a new
environment and the last thing any new pet owner wants is an angry
neighbor or landlord trying to have the pet removed.
"When it comes to deciding on a piglet, it is very important to
choose one that is at least 8 weeks old, weaned, and comes from a
reputable breeder to ensure that it is healthy," said Sprake.
"Also, even though they are called miniature, micro pigs can still
grow to around 40 pounds and full size or traditional pot belly
pigs can reach 100 pounds or more so it is important to see the
parents of the pig you are planning on taking home to evaluate your
piglet's potential adult size."
When it comes to training your new pot-bellied pig it is
important to remember that pigs can be as intensive a pet as dogs,
and as such they need exercise and social interaction or they may
develop health and behavioral problems. Pigs can be trained very
similarly to dogs using positive reinforcement techniques such as
clicker training. They are also highly food motivated so it is
important to make sure that their treats are low in calories, such
as fresh fruits or vegetables, in order to prevent obesity.
"When it comes to feed, young pigs should be fed a youth
mini-pig feed until they reach around two years of age," said
Sprake. "After this they can be fed adult or senior foods which are
high in fiber and relatively low calorie to help curb obesity. Pigs
should also have access to fresh water at all times, and should
never be fed human food as the high salt content can cause salt
When it comes to deciding where to place your pig's bedding, the
first thing a pet-owner must decide is if they want to keep their
new pet inside or out. Regardless, all pigs need access to the
outside so they can root, which is an instinctive behavior where
the pig digs in the ground with their snout searching for food and
obtaining iron from the soil, which is vital to prevent anemia.
"Pigs are sensitive to both hot and cold temperature extremes,"
said Sprake. "Therefore they need shelter from the sun, wind and
rain. If kept outside in Texas, for example, they will need fans to
compensate for the hot summer months as well as a kiddie pool or
shallow pond to wallow in and cool off. Pigs can also be kept
inside as they are easily housetrained or litter-box trained."
Pet pigs, like their livestock counterparts, should be checked
regularly by a veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy as
"Pet pigs initially need to be vaccinated to avoid several
diseases, and should be spayed or neutered to prevent behavioral
issues, unwanted litters, and other health problems," said Sprake.
"Pigs should also be wormed several times a year and need their
feet trimmed regularly. The biggest problems veterinarians see in
pet pigs usually comes from owners providing an inappropriate
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for
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