Pot Belly Pigs are touted as being smart and clean, great pets, often compared to a dog.
While they can be all of those things, classifieds are also cluttered with people trying to re-home them and there is a reason for that. Before you commit to bringing your pig home, here’s some advice from someone who’s “been there, done that”.
When I was younger, my sister had a pot belly pig for a few weeks. Unfortunately that didn’t quite work out, and over the years she’s never let go of her dream to own one. When we bought our farm we thought that we were up to the task, and that it’d be nice for her to have one to visit.
We found someone rehoming two pigs, did our research, bought supplies and thought we were ready.
We were not.
Don’t get me wrong, those pigs were cute, but I was not prepared for the challenge that they were. There were days, after cleaning up 20 or 30 accidents, that I wondered if they’d make a good dinner. Eventually I realized that we had to give up and send them back to their previous owner.
I felt terrible. I hate admitting I failed at something and I hate having to re-home pets. Every time we’ve had to it’s a gut wrenching decision that I second-guess for days afterwards.
My hope is that by sharing the lessons we learned I might help prevent other families from going through what we did.
“Teacup” or “Mini” Pigs
A large amount of the pigs that end up being re-homed were once thought to be “Teacup” or “Mini” pig. There is no such thing as a pig that will forever stay small.
Pot Belly Pigs grow to be 60-200 pounds and they tend to be around the middle of that, not on the low end.
Don’t be fooled if a breeder shows you the parents and you think that’s as big as they’ll get. Pigs can start breeding at a very young age and don’t stop growing until they’re 2. Those parents are likely still babies themselves.
The people who owned our pigs before us thought they were getting teacup pigs out of the back of a van.
They were not teacup pigs.
*Also don’t buy pot belly pigs out of the back of a van. But that might need a separate blog post.
Training the Pigs
Pot Belly Pigs are incredibly smart, that much is true. It’s touted by every pig lover and on every pig site.
However, pigs don’t think like the smart animals we’re used to. It’s not like a pink round dog: pigs are prey animals. Because of this, training them is very very different.
I thought hey, we’ve trained some dogs, we’re pretty good at this, we can train pigs!
No, they are nowhere near the same. It’s a completely different way of thinking, training and interacting. It’s more like training an insanely smart, big, squealing hamster. Even if they’re well socialized that prey instinct will always be hanging out in the back of their brain.
They’re TOO Smart
You might not think that’s an issue, but what it means is that they learn bad habits very easily, and unlearn them VERY slowly.
The day our pigs came to us it was crazy. They were stressed from our drive and as soon as they came screaming into our house they took off running, peeing, pooping and making a mess everywhere.
Not the best introduction.
After that they were POSITIVE that they were allowed to go wherever they wanted.
I tried to do what the books said, redirect them to their litter box, not scold them, etc. That’s well and fine, but when you try to direct a pig that doesn’t know you well towards a litter box, because of the prey instinct, flight kicks in. I don’t think I was successful in doing that ONCE in the week we had them.
If you’re getting an older pot belly pig keep that in mind too. They might be cheap or free, but you don’t know what habits you might need to retrain.
Pot Belly Pig Care
Before we got our pigs I had done some research but apparently not enough. I had no idea the amount of care involved! Sure you have to litter train them, teach them manners, feed them, etc.
Did you also know that they grow tusks? Yep, even the females. And you have to have those trimmed regularly.
Their hooves also need to be trimmed. As a horse girl I should have figured that out, but it didn’t even cross my mind.
Then you need to find a vet that will actually take your pigs and not charge you an arm or a leg. They’re considered an exotic pet in a lot of areas and with that comes a premium for care, plus most vets just don’t have the experience with them.
People say “Pigs are clean animals”. That the depictions of them being messy slobs in tv and movies aren’t true.
Maybe they’re cleaner than some animals, but I have no idea which ones.
Pigs won’t go to the bathroom where they eat or sleep, but ours would go pretty much anywhere else. While they tend to only poop in one or two spots, they will pee 20 different times in 18 different places if they have the room. And they’d happily run through it, track it around, lay in it, etc.
So no, not very clean animals.
All of these things can make owning a pig to be very overwhelming for most people, they were for us.
However, as long as you are aware and feel prepared for them there’s no reason a Pot Belly Pig can’t be a great pet for you and your family. Personally, I don’t think we’ll be trying to have Pot Belly Pigs again anytime soon.
If any of these sounds like a concern though, PLEASE reconsider. We don’t need to add one more to the list of rehomed pigs on craigslist!
If you’d like to take a look at the rest of our animals on our farm:
5 Things Every Chicken Coop Needs
Or check out our barn:
Barn Tour: Before
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