Are you thinking about getting a mini pig as a companion animal? They make wonderful additions to the family, but there are some things you need to consider before adopting a mini pig. This video can help ensure you make the right choice for you and the pig!
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1. Pigs Love to Cuddle.
There is nothing as endearing as lying down on the couch only to have our pigs come and pile on top of you. My favorite is when Charlotte puts her face right up against mine and snuggles in sound asleep. I love hearing her deep breaths that say she is so content sleeping there. And while pigs do have more bristle to their hair, it is also very smooth against your skin when you cuddle up close. So, you don't have to worry about being poked.
2. Pigs Treat You as an Equal
As Winston Churchill once said, "I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." And this is so true. Unlike a dog, pigs do not worship humans as gods. They definitely view you as their equal. If you are good to them, they are good to you. They do often want to make you happy. And I've seen pigs be reprimanded vocally by their human companion and seen them go off whining and sulking. They definitely show a whole range of emotions and you will often feel like someone stuck a human inside a pig's body.
3. Watching Them Eat Never Gets Old
Pigs love food! In fact, I've yet to encounter any living being that enjoys anything as much as pigs seem to enjoy food. Pumpkin even has food induced bouts of ecstasy. Mid-meal, she suddenly freezes, gets her happy mohawk, and starts grunting happy grunts. It looks like she is in a happy coma. You just have to wait it out if you need her to do something. I usually have to pick up her food to keep Charlotte and Millie from eating it because she simply cannot move during these occurrences. And the smacking of their lips as they chomp on food is just plain adorable. Carrots and crunchy snacks are especially fun to watch them eat.
4. Pigs Sleep Through the Night
Aside from Millie, who likes to change positions in the middle of the night, most pigs will soundly sleep through the night. Often settling in around 7 PM, pigs are known to be good sleepers. When our girls cuddle up together for the night, unless someone makes noise in the kitchen implying snacks are to be had, it is quite unlike the girls are going to do much until morning. Millie is the only exception. She occasionally wakes up and has to change positions (and she makes sure everyone knows what she is doing by making as much noise as an entire farm of pigs). Otherwise, you mostly just get to enjoy the sounds of pigs deeply breathing in and out. So peaceful and calming!
5. The Always Smell Good and Stay Very Clean
We have lived with pigs well over a year now, and have maybe needed to give them a bath twice. Pigs always seem to have a nice clean smell to them. And their fur seems to resist getting dirty. Even after laying in mud (which our girls don't do very often), they seem to magically shed any dirt that was attached the minute they dry off. If your pigs live indoors most of the time, they will prefer air condition and a couch to a mud puddle. The only time our girls dig into the mud is when they are stuck outside on a warm day. Once, while at Colonial Williamsburg, Charlotte had herself coated in mud and yet by the time we got home that day she seemed nearly as clean as when we left.
Poor Millie can't seem to keep her butt on the ground. Every bite of grass seems to be too deeply rooted forcing her to defy gravity and do a little piggy flying.
You have to watch the girls enjoying applesauce from a baby spoon!
This is a controversial subject, but it is my firm belief that no one should be breeding companion animals. This is not because I think humans don't get a huge benefit from being with their companion animals or that companion animals don't love their lives with humans. I will not even address the things wrong with the breeding industry, both big and small.
Consider the term “pet owner” - humans and animals are not equally considered in this equation. If we consider 6.5 million animals end up in a shelter every year, it becomes clear that humans do not take the responsibility of being a parent to their companion animals seriously. And, this is all topped off by the fact that 1.5 million of these animals are euthanized each year (ASPCA).
So, you might respond, but I'm a responsible parent to my companion animals, why punish me? But this ignores so many other factors. For instance, many of the animals that are kept as pets are pack animals that have family structures. We purposely tear babies from their mothers so that someone might enjoy the company of that animal. Imagine if the same thing were done to a human. Why do we assume that humans evolved to care about their family but animals didn't? Who is the most dangerous animal in nature? The mother. In nearly any species where parents are present to raise their young, a mother animal will defend her children at all cost. Nature is filled with examples of very diligent and caring animal parents that stay with their young long past weening, sometimes for several years of more.
I live with a mother pig and her daughter. They are nearly inseparable. Charlotte is 1 year and 3 months old, but if her mom Pumpkin hears her cry out for any reason, she comes charging in. There is a bond there that seems every bit as strong as what I see between human mother and child. In the wild, this bares out in the fact that often mother pigs and their children will stay together as a family long after her children have weened (Humane Society). We know the same is true of dogs. Wolf packs in the wild consists of parents and their more recent adult pups (wolf.org). . So, what makes it okay to take the babies of companion animal mothers away after a few weeks to sell for a profit?
Is it truly fair to animals to artificially control the course of their lives for the benefit of humans? If we truly love animals, would we separate their families for our own benefit? And considering the number of animals abandoned for being destructive within their home, whether by chewing on things they shouldn't or peeing inside, it is clear that as hard as we try to make them compatible with human homes, these animals still have some of their wild ancestry inside them.
Now, I'm not suggesting that people should stop taking in companion animals. As long as there are animals in shelters or being abandoned on the streets, it is our responsibility to take care of these animals and give them the best life possible. However, when we know it goes against their nature to be separated from family, forced to live under human rules, and all the while knowing that millions of animals suffer lives of neglect and abuse, continuing to breed animals seems irresponsible and anything but fair. This is not to mention that currently, there are almost no guidelines or regulations regarding the breeding of companion animals. Anyone can do it under nearly any condition without much fear of repercussions.
Thus, the slogan, "Adopt, don't shop!" is not just about making sure animals who need homes find one, it is also about the fact that breeding animals leads to some of the worst forms of animal abuse, such as puppy mills. I love my three rescued pigs and rescued Yorkie fur family, but it would be selfish of me to believe that my enjoyment of their company justifies the breaking apart of mother and child, the forcing to live in artificially-imposed conditions contrary to their nature, and sentencing many companion animals to suffer at the hands of irresponsible humans.
I appreciate all the people who do an amazing job providing their companion animals with the best possible life. This blog post is not meant to in any way malign those of you doing your best and treating your animal family like exactly, well, family. But, I hope you will consider what I have written and join with me in promoting the idea that animals are not our possessions. We should not be dictating their lives by breeding them for human purposes which are so contrary to their inner nature of these animals.
Try out this thought experiment: Consider a benevolent alien race coming down to Earth and selectively breeding humans to be as happy as possible living with them as a companion human. Overtime, I have no doubt that humans would adjust to many aspects of being the possession of an alien being who treated them well. And in the foreign circumstances of alien life, humans would feel dependent on the alien “owners” for survival. Deep down, though, do you think our drive for freedom would ever go away? Do you think that a mother's love for her children would ever wane as the children were taken to be sold off as companion humans to the alien race?
Every day we learn more about animal intelligence and all the evidence coming back suggests that animals are way more aware of their existence than previously thought (check out the book by Barbara J. King’s Personalities on the Plate). Animals have strong family bonds and think about the past and the future. Sharing so much in common with humans, should we not reconsider how we are treating them? Forcing an animal to have babies so that those babies can be taken and sold (or even given away) seems wrong by every standard we use for justifying our treatment of other humans.
Being of a different species is not sufficient justification for ignoring the needs and desires of these animals.
This is Charlotte when she was much littler. She really knew how to get her groove on :)
Poor Pumpkin. She has to gulp her food down or otherwise Charlotte is all to eager to come help her finish it.
The bulk of a mini pig's diet should be made up of mini pig food. Mazuri makes a brand of mini pig food that can be found at most Tractor Supply Company stores. And you can also order food through online retailers like Ross Mills. It is important that you do not feed your pig table scraps or just a random assortment of food. This can lead to undernourishment or to an obese pig. And you want to limit snacks to healthy low calorie treats in limited quantities. As many sites will point out, it is very easy for pigs to gain weight and very hard for them to lose it. So, measure out the food you give your pig after determining the right amount. Mazuri's webpage gives a chart for determining how much food to feed your pig based on their weight and age. And then you can add or subtract based on your pig's activity level. Our piglet Millie is very active and constantly on the go. So, she eats almost the same amount as our 1 year old pig Charlotte who weighs 15 pounds more but is less active. And any piglet under 8 weeks of age should only be drinking their mother's milk.
And never feed your pig animal products. This is not healthy for your pig and can be downright dangerous. Meat contains many zoonotic diseases that lead to early death for your pig. Your adopted pig is a member of your family and you are responsible for giving them a quality life. Sticking to the mini pig food and healthy snacks will ensure that they have the best chance of a long and happy life. Remember, when people talk about how 'pigs will eat anything', they are talking about pigs on farms where the pigs are not going to live more than 6 months. So, the factor of how unhealthy the food is for pigs is not taken into account.
For a list of foods and plants toxic to pigs, visit: Mini Pig Info