Q: Do people eat potbellied pigs?
A: Yes. They were originally bred for the dinner table. While many propose that they are pets, and they do make good pets for a select few, they are part of the food chain. While you may not see potbllies pig "pork chops" you are most likely eating them when you eat sausage or hot dogs. Many people breed them still for this purpose. While there are many people that do have them as pets they are still considered livestock by the USDA and most cities. UPDATE: Potbellied pigs are no longer considered livestock by the USDA.
Q: How big do potbellied pigs get? I understand that they remain about the size of a medium dog.
A: Yes, they are about the size of a short, fat, squat, medium dog. There is abslolutely no guarantee regarding the size of a potbellied pig. They are considered "miniature" and if compared to a farm pig, they certainly are. Many breeders will tell you they will "top" out at between 30 to 50 pounds or even remain smaller. You must remember that many breeders, especially the backyard breeders are in it for the money and will not always be totally honest regarding this matter. The average weight of a potbellied pig is between 90 and 150 pounds although there are some that can weigh a great deal more. Even though they may be the "size" of a medium dog there is the body mass that must be considered. A potbellied pig does not mature until between 3 and 4 years of age so the only way to ensure the size of a pig is to get one after they have reached that age.
Q. Do potbellied pigs made good pets?
A: Yes they can make good pets, for the right person. They are not the pet for everyone. They have many idiosyncrasies that are not acceptible my most. Many love to root, which is their nature. If you have a beautifully landscaped yard then a pig should not be your choice unless you can provide them with their own "special" place where they can landscape to their own hearts desire. They do need outdoor time and while many attempt to make them totally indoor pets it is not in the best interest of the pig. They need to root, sunbathe and just have the opportunity to be a pig. This does not mean that they can't be indoors, cuddle with you on the couch or sleep at the foot of..or in your bed. Do take into consideration that this works well when they are piglets, but they do grow up. They are also very manipulative and will do anything they can think of to get what they want...which is usually food. You really can't make a pig do something it doesn't want to do...unless you have an army of "body builders"... or if you have the correct enticement, which would be....what? Right. Food. Gotta love them.
Q: Are pigs as smart as they say they are?
A:. Yes, pigs are highly intelligent and are considered smarter than your average dog. They can be trained to perform many tricks, become litter trained, potty trained and it is my undersanding they are like having an eternal 3 year old child, personality wise. I believe that this is why many people find pigs to be difficult to have as pets. Who wants a pet that is smarter than their owner. Pigs are very food motivated and this is why it is so easy to train them. They have minds like "steel traps" and have been known to hold a grudge if treated without respect. In regards to litter and potty training, I found pigs easier to train than a human child, who seem to have an adverse reaction to this procedure.
Q: Should potbellied pigs be spayed and neutered.
A. Absolutely. All animals should be spayed and neutered if appropriate. All RESPONSIBLE pet owners should make this a priority. Those that don't are only perpetuating the need for sanctuaries and rescues. If you are not willing to do this then you DO NOT need to have a pet. I can't imagine anyone wanting to have a "stinky boar" that will mount anything within reach or an intact female that will become a ranting and raving PMS'ing piggy every month. I do not allow intact boars on the sanctuary property but I have been forced to give refuge to intact females due to their age or size. I can tell you "horror" stories of how far and how fast I have had to run in attempting to avoid a female piggy in the throws of a heat cycle. They are totally dedicated in "wooing" the object of their affection. Here...it is usually me. For the female potbellied pig, having them spayed can also prevent future "female" health problems.
I remember a pig name Baby that was very active during her "cycle". One day I was emptying, cleaning and refilling pools. While doing so I was squatting down while waiting for the pool to fill up. I was concentrating and was not aware of Baby coming up behind me. She "mounted" me and the next thing I knew I was blowing bubbles in the water. It's difficult to disengage yourself from a 150 pound pig sitting on your back while you are flat on you face in the water. Gurgle, gurlge, gurgle.
Q: At what age can a potbellied breed?
A: I love this question as the answer always stuns most people. They think of pigs in terms of dogs or cats. You know...the 6 month thing. Well...let me fill you in. A little boar piglet is capable of "fatherhood" between the age of 9 to 11 weeks. Yes...for those that are questioning this...it is true. A female piglet is receptive and able to reproduce at about 3 months of age. Now..this is very scary and this is also why so many people with two opposite sex pigs can enable a major future "rescue" when this gets "out of hand". Pigs are akin..if not superior..to the ability of cats or rabbits to procreate. Pigs have an agenda...eat and breed. It is their nature and if left to nature....oh my...what a mess can be "conceived". (play on words) Spaying and neutering is also a health benefit that must not be ignored. This is true with all animals.
Q: I have heard that pigs can be aggressive. Is this true?
A: Yes they can become aggressive. Isn't every breed on this earth aggressive if the circumstances are appropriate? My experience here has been that those pigs that are in this category have been "only pigs"...for the most part. Pigs are herd animals and if they are an only pig in a human setting they tend to treat the family as their herd. Pigs are territorial and will protect their "family" if they feel there is a need. I have had calls regarding this matter...."My pig charges and attempts to "eliminate" friends that come to visit. I just don't know what to do. I think I will have to find another place for my pig to live as I cannot allow this to happen." Stop and think people. A stranger is something to be considered a threat and the pig is only attempting to protect what they feel is their "herd". It is their nature. Someone new coming into the household...even for a visit..is considered suspect and a possible danger. It is totally natural and understandable. It is instinct. My response to many of these calls has been..."if you are having this problem and have invited people into your home, put your pig in a secure area so this won't happen". Taking this precaution will save "wear and tear" on all concerned. You are the one that is setting up your pig...and your visitors If you don't understand this behavior then you certainly didn't do enough research and shouldn't have a pig in the first place. Why expose everyone involved to a possible "disaster"? What were you thinking?
In sanctuary settings or where there is a group of pigs, there is a heirarchy that must be maintained. Someone has to be in charge. During this process there is a great deal of posturing, smacking, charging, swiping and the occasional and very intimidating "ear hold". Pigs should be introduced to each other slowly. Here at the sanctuary this is done by putting a new pig in a pen next to the pen they are designated to be moved to after the initial introductory period. They get to know each other with the safety of being separated.
Q: Do all vets take care for pigs?
A: No they do not. Most vets do not want to deal with pigs as they have not had the specific training it takes to do so. If you are considering a pig as a pet it is imperative that you check around to see if there is a vet in your area that has had exeperience and is willing to work with them. When I first moved the sanctuary to this area I was unable to find anyone that would work with me other than to neuter the males. After much research, I was fortunate enough to find Arn Anderson, DVM from Cross Timbers Veterinarian Clinic in Bowie, Texas that had both experience and the willingness to work with the sanctuary pigs. He takes care of the trimming of hooves and tusks and is always available for any other problem that might arise. The clinic is also available to care for all other resident animals. Another criteria for working with pigs regarding performing procedures on them, is either being deaf or having great ear plugs, lots of patience, numerous available staff members and superman strength. A squealing pig's decibles is akin to a 747 jet engine charging up getting ready for a run down the tarmac. The only other animal that I have encountered with a louder pitch is a monkey screaming while sitting on my shoulder. Actually, both a pig and a monkey could be heard over a jet engine given the right circmstances.
Q: Are pigs "dirty" animals and a health hazard? I hear that they "stink' too.
A: Pigs are basically fastidious animals. They like being clean. Yes, they will spend time in the mud if it is available to them and they have a very good reason for doing this. It helps cool them off in the summer time. Pigs do not sweat..contrary to popular belief. We have all heard the term "Sweat like a pig". Inane statement without any basis of truth. Mud also helps prevent sunburn, can help keep away those pesky insects and is quite good for their skin. Women used to utilize "mud packs" for this very reason. Just as a woman will rid herself of the "mud pack" a pig will use a tree to rub off all the mud and will be clean as a whistle in no time. A pig is only as dirty as it's environment. Most pigs will not even "dirty" their sleeping area and will normally use the same area to eliminate. Pigs do not "stink". They virtually have no BO unless of course it is an intact male.
Pigs do not have the usual external parasite attraction that dogs and cats do. They have hair (albeit bristly)...not fur..and ticks and fleas and not interested in visiting, much less residing on them. So as far as being a "health hazard" along these lines it is not a problem. Let me also add that the "elimination" of pigs that are fed pig pellets and not meat by-products such as farm pigs, has virtually no odor whatsoever. I would rather do "poop patrol" on the over 130+ pigs here than clean up after the cats, dogs or horses.
Q: Do pigs get along well with other animals?
A: For the most part they do but I always suggest that supervision is the best policy....especially with dogs. Pigs are prey and dogs are predators. Even if you have a dog and a pig that have been raised together, under the right circumstances there can be a problem. A sqealing pig can incite a dog to react instinctively...which is usually to attack. This can be especially devestating if there is more than one dog as they will react as a "pack" and can do a great deal of damage to a pig in a realatively short period of time. I have seen it happen and I have rescued pigs that have no ears, partial ears and have remenants of old dog bites. I would certainly hesitate to allow dogs and pigs to be together without being on hand to make sure that no harm comes to the pig.
Q: What do pigs eat?
A: Pigs will eat anything you allow them to. That is why they are called "pigs". They should be fed special pig food and there are several sources available. People food is for just that...people...not pigs and it should not be included in their diet. Pigs are prone to weight gain and if you have short little legs you don't need a huge body to carry around. (I know from my own personal experience) I think they have a slow metabolism. Overfeeding is one of the most prevelant problems of the uniformed pig owner. Pigs know how to make you feel guilty regarding food and will spend their days and nights scheming ways to convince you they will topple over and die if you don't give them all the food you have available. Overweight pigs can present with numerous problems. I have had pigs arrive here so fat they have folds of skin over their eyes and are considered "fat blind". They have a tendency to become arthritic. Their cardiovascular systems are not geared to carry a great deal of weight and it can become a systematic problem. It is important that fruits and vegetables be added to their diet. Limit fruits due to the fructose which can also add to their weight. Fruits can be used as a treat on a limited basis.
Q: Are potbellied pigs destructive?
A: Here at the sanctuary no pig is considered destructive. There is a lot of "rootin" going on so the area in which the pigs reside does appear as if a bomb was dropped, including trenches and holes that could swallow a small foreign car. In the summer these "dugouts" are just filled with water so that they can enjoy a little lounging in the "spa". They live here as pigs and this is expected and allowed. It's part of their nature and they are free to do so. If you are asking about a "house pig", yes, they can be destructive as well. Usually this is the result of a "bored" pig that is looking to entertain themselves. I have heard horror stories of rooted up rugs, toppled coffee tables, raids on pantry's and numerous other escapades. This can be the result of a pig that has been left to their own devises while alone for long periods of time without interaction with their "persons". They will find ways to entertain themselves. Not all pigs react this way as each is an individual with a specific personality. Most pigs will not react in this manner while their persons are at home. It is my personal opinion that if you must leave your pig for long periods of time you should provide them with an outdoor area in order for them to root, sun or play in a pool if the weather is conducive. If it is cold then provide them with hay so that they can spend the time arranging and rearranging the hay to suit them. They can spend hours doing this and be as happy as little larks. You can provide piggy toys both indoors and out. Consider your pig and it's needs. Don't try to make your pig into something that it was not meant to be. Provide what is consistent with their nature. If you leave your pig in the house alone and it does some things you consider destructive, you are the one responsible for the end result. Don't blame them.
Q: Are potbellied pigs good with children?
A: I think the question here should be..."Are children good with potbellied pigs?" I guess it would depend on the age of the child but any under the age of of 7 would be suspect in my mind. I believe that is considered the "age of reason". I know adults that haven't reached the "age of reason". Many children are not educated in the correct way to interact with animals in general. They are not taught respect for animals and consider them "play toys". "See the pretty kitty? Watch me while I drag it around by the tail". "See the cute puppy? Hear how it yelps while I attempt to separate it's ears from it's head.?" Of course, this is not the child's fault but if in the end it harms an animal then it is not a good connection. No child should have animals as pets until they have successfully graduated from an intense course in the correct manner of how to act around, care for and respect animals. I do believe that children should have contact with animals while properly supervised . This is where education for children might possibly ensure the future or our animals. I think it should be required curriculum in the school system. But then...that's just me.
Q: I want to adopt a potbellied pig and I live in town.
A: Stop. Before you even consider having a pig, you need to check your zoning laws. Pigs are on the "hit list" in most cities, both large and small. I must admit I cannot fathom why as I would rather have a pig living next to me rather than barking dogs.
I have had personal experience along these lines having been run out of Bridgeport, Texas. "A pig, is a pig and it is a health hazard." Never mind that there were 50 cows on two acres next to the pigs, standing knee deep in manure with flies everywhere. The stench was horrendous and that is not a health hazard? Slap me silly for not understanding this mentality.
Even with major backing and media coverage I had to move the pigs out of town. We left with our little piggy tails between our legs. The city ordinance allowed all animals with the exception of pigs and exotic cats. I can understand the latter...but pigs? Go figure.Q: Do pigs shed?
A: Yes...most pigs blow their entire coats at least once a year. They take on the appearance of Montel Williams before their new coats grow in. You can actaully pull the hair out in fistfulls. Before the new coat completely grows in they look as if they have been inducted into the military, sent to the barber shop and "burred."Q: What is the gestation period for potbellied pigs?
A: Three months, three weeks and three days.Q: I really want a pet but I am allergic to dogs and cats. Would I be allergic to pigs too?
A: Normally people are not allergic to pigs. Pigs have hair, not fur with dander. Dander is what people are usually allergic to. That is not to say that there might be a select few that might have problems with allergies due to pigs but it is not the norm.Q: I want to get a potbellied pig. Where can I get one?
A: First of all I would ask that you do not buy from backyard breeders or flea markets. When doing this you are only enabling these people to continue to breed indiscriminately. In many instances you may not even be getting a true potbellied pig as many of these people breed their potty's to other breeds. Contacting a sanctuary in your area and rescuing a pig is the responsible thing to do. There are many pigs available in all sizes, shapes and ages. Also, please research before making a decision. Sanctuaries are full of pigs from people that had good intentions but did not understand what they were getting into.
Visit a sanctuary and talk to the caregivers in order to compile information so you will know all facets of caring for these special animals. They ARE NOT the pet for everyone. Please be responsible. When adopting or purchasing any animal you must be committed to the life span of that animal.Q: How long to potbellied pigs live?:
A: It was first thought that they could live to be up to 30 years old but this is a misnomer. The average lifespan is between 10 to 14 years of age. I have had many that have lived beyond this...up to almost 18. It is not the usual though.