Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pot-bellied pigs...throw away pets?

I can't help but notice the increasing number of pot-bellied pigs becoming available in this area. I just want to stress, for those of you who may not be aware, that pig ownership is a HUGE commitment...in hopes that people will be very careful when making the decision about whether to add one to their home or not.

Pot-bellied pigs are so sweet as babies, but these babies...like all others...do grow up and they grow up fast. An adult pig will be very different from the sweet little piglet you originally bring into your home. They MUST MUST MUST be spayed or neutered or they do NOT make good house pets. This is not just something that is "recommended", it is an ABSOLUTE must. They NEED room to roam and root to their hearts content EVERYday or they become bored and destructive. A simple back yard is not enough. They will destroy your grass, flowers and any other plant (poisonous or not) you may have and root HUGE holes on a constant, never ending basis. This isn't "bad" behaviour...it's what pigs were created to do and you will never change that. If you do find a way to keep them from doing this, they won't be happy and that energy will go into other destructive things. It is also very difficult in this area to find a vet who deals with pigs beyond the basic things. If your pig develops a health problem, chances are you will have to travel to find him help. I speak from experience. You will also have to travel to get the proper food for a pot-bellied pig. They should never be fed regular farm pig food. The closest place to get what you should be feeding them is Leduc and it is quite costly.

Yes, what you have heard about pigs being very clean in the house is true. They are very clean when it comes to bathroom habits (if they are fixed and trained properly), but they are still…and always will be…pigs. They will get into anything and everything that is not locked...your fridge, your cupboards, your garbage, etc. and they leave froth (male pigs are more known for this) and nose marks on every surface of your home. They are extremely messy eaters, which means mopping the floor after meals is a necessity. They will pull the cushions off your couch and shred them if they so feel like and leave bite marks on the legs of your furniture... regardless of how expensive it was. They will also chew on the corner of every wall in your house. I have seen a pig peel linoleum off a floor almost like peeling an orange, just because he could. They have amazingly strong noses and when they get something in their mind...they don't give up. If left alone they will overturn your plants, tip your coffee table, get into anything that you have left out and will shred your best shirt if left in the laundry pile to which they have access. Mine have spread 20kg bags of potting soil through my house, tipped over my hedgehog cage, freeing her and spreading the contents of her cage from bedroom to kitchen. They've gone into the bedroom, shut the door behind them and have pulled all the blankets and pillows off the bed to make their own little nest...ripping every one. They have eaten the wall in my hallway to where it needs to be replaced. Do they do this every time they are left alone? No. But it's a real treat when they choose to do it...and it does happen.

Pigs are social animals and are very loving. However, again, they are still pigs and they have their own social system. They are VERY strong willed. Making a pig do something he doesn't want to do or doesn't see the point in (and they do think things through) is almost impossible. Even miniature pigs are solid and STRONG. They get cranky when things aren't going their way and an angry pig is about as easy to handle as an angry bear. The term "pig headed" is used for a very good reason. If you have more than one, they will bicker and even fight if one decides, for whatever reason (can be as simple as the other one walking past him), that he is offended. A pig argument is a real event when you place it in the middle of a living room. Pigs also should NEVER be left unattended with other animals or small children. After 4 years of getting along without any sign of a problem, ours attacked our large dog and she required $660 worth of stitches. This attack was unprovoked.

After saying all of this, I also want to add that pigs are the best pets I have ever owned. I have 4 and love them like children and can't imagine my life without them. I just want to stress that they are NOT for everybody, and I would go so far as to say that they are not the pet for MOST people. They don’t make good city pets. 3 of my 4 pigs are rescue pigs who suddenly found themselves without a home and in horrible situations once they grew into what they are…pigs. This is happening WAY TOO MUCH in this area!!! Pot-bellied pigs are bred as pets, yet they are being sent for slaughter and are being dumped off on the side of the road when they start to mature and their owners (who did no research about them) are done with them. They are “throw away pets” and this is abuse. Please be very honest with yourself when deciding if a pig is for you and your family. If you don't have the time or patience to deal with any of the issues I have mentioned (plus others that you haven’t even begun to imagine), chances are you will not be happy with a pig. If you like a clean, tidy house all the time, then they are probably not for you. Pigs come to know their families and changing families is very stressful for them. There is a condition where stress can actually kill a pig...they don't handle it well. They can also be difficult if you travel and need to find someone to look after them. Not many people want a pig in their house, and more than likely your pig will not want to be in someone else’s house without you anyways...which would only lead to more problems. They are a lot of work and a long term commitment and I believe it is a commitment that should never be made lightly.

A note to pot-bellied pig breeders: Please consider having your piglets spayed or neutered before selling them, and PLEASE do some research into what is happening to these babies once they begin to mature, especially the ones being sold as city pets. These wonderful creatures are at the mercy of a fad and MANY of them are ending up in horrible situations and even being butchered. Someone needs to start taking responsibility for this and it has to begin with you.

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