Pigs as Pets?Another cute pig

Most people have dogs or cats as pets. Since 1986, some people in the United States have chosen Vietnamese Potbelly Pigs as pets. A man named Keith Connell introduced these pigs into North America, intending to sell them to zoos. Soon however, individuals became interested in these pigs as pets. At first they were very costly, but now they cost no more than purebred cats and dogs.

Potbelly pigs have been marketed as miniature pigs. They are miniature only when compared to other domestic pigs, which average 1,000 pounds or more. Reports differ on how much potbelly pigs typically weigh—some say 70-150 pounds and others say 100–250 pounds. That’s a wide range! The point is: potbelly pigs are big! They are not small, cuddly piglets.

Pigs are considered to be intelligent animals. Some resources say that pigs are the fourth most intelligent animal. Monkeys are first, dolphins are second, whales are third, and pigs fourth. Pigs have a good memory and learn quickly. Pigs can be house broken and can be taught to use a litter box, much like a cat.

 Pigs are curious animals. They spend a lot of time sniffing around. Their sense of smell is so keen that they can smell something that is 25 feet underground! This serves them well when they live in the wild, because they can find food easily. Their sense of smell can also help humans. Some pigs are trained to assist law enforcement officers. They can sniff out drugs, just like dogs.

 Have you heard the sayings: “Dirty as a pig.” “Stink like a pig.” “Sweat like a hog.” All these sayings are misleading. Pigs are not dirty and do not smell! On top of that, they are not capable of sweating! If pigs have their own confined space, they keep it clean. (Beware however, when they are outside their own space, they are not so neat.) Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of pigs wallowing in the mud. To pigs, to get muddy is not getting dirty. Pigs cover themselves in mud to keep cool. They do not have sweat glands like people do.

 Pigs do have a well-deserved reputation for being messy eaters, so if you’re accused of “eating like a pig,” this is not a compliment! If you chew with your mouth open or smack your lips when you eat, then you do eat like a pig! They seem to almost inhale their food. they can however, close their nostrils when digging in the dirt, looking for food.

 Pigs are social animals. In the wild, they live in groups called sounders. Like dogs, pigs can be difficult to live with if they don’t know who’s the boss. You need to establish yourself as the “top pig.” You set the rules. Consistency is important when training pigs; set limits you can live with. Along the same lines, because pigs are social animals, they may get bored if left home alone. A friend of mine had a pig that ate the wallpaper off the walls when it got bored. It was not a pretty picture!

 We think that pigs live a long life when compared to other animals. The estimate is that potbelly pigs live from 15 to 30 years. Of course, how long they live depends on factors such as how much exercise a pig gets, if their weight is kept under control, if they receive their vaccinations regularly, and if they are examined regularly by a veterinarian.

 If you think a pet potbelly pig would make a cute and cuddly pet, consider the characteristics of pigs carefully. Do not be deceived by people who say that potbelly pigs will stay small if you control their food. This is not true. In fact, underfeeding a pig can be harmful. Cute piglets grow up to be large pigs, but under the right circumstances, they can make wonderful pets.

 Written by: Jeanne Swafford

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