Pot-Bellied Pig Owner

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Want to adopt a pet, but looking for something a little more exciting than your average cat or dog? Then give pot-bellied pigs a try.

These loveable creatures are big news in the pet world. Some owners swear the oinkers are more affectionate than their fur-bearing counterparts.

Most pot-bellied pig owners live in rural, semi-rural or suburban areas, where they have outdoor space for their pigs to roam. While there are a few "city pigs," breeders and owners recommend space -- the more the better.

Pot-bellied pigs have become popular as pets in the last 15 years. They originated in the jungles of China and Vietnam. They were introduced to the U.S. as pets around 1985. They became popular among pet owners for their general cleanliness, intelligence, and unique appearance.

Currently, there are an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 pigs kept as pets in North America, and this number is steadily on the rise. That's according to the North American Pot-Bellied Pig Association.

Make sure you can really afford a pot-bellied pig before you buy or adopt one. Establish the cost of properly caring for a pig in your area and evaluate your budget honestly.

The purchase price of your pig is not the only cost to consider. Food and regular health care (including spaying or neutering) are essentials. You will also need a bed, harness, leash, and bowls.

Expect to pay anywhere between $175 and $400 for a piglet at a reputable breeder. You can also adopt a pig from a shelter or rescue service for a smaller fee, which varies depending on the shelter.

Pigs instinctively want to root and can cause considerable damage to the house or flower garden if they do not have an appropriate area (soft dirt or grass) for this. Your pig must have access to both a fenced outside area where it can root, and also to an area sheltered from the weather.

Your yard must provide shade for the summer and warm shelter during the winter. Pot-bellied pigs are tropical animals, and cold can be deadly.

During the summer, you should provide a wading pools or pond for the pig to go in to stay cool. Since pigs do not sweat, they must have access to water to cool off. The ideal temperature range for a pig is 65 to 88 F.

There are few physical requirements for owning a pot-bellied pig. If you can clean litter (if your pig is litter trained), feed and water bowls, or if you are able to look after a small child for long periods of time, you are well prepared to handle a pig!

Proper training goes a long way to making it easy to handle and care for your pig. But because these animals are energetic and can weigh up to 200 pounds, they do not make good pets for young children, the disabled, or the elderly.

"They aren't pets for little kids," is the message from the North American Pot-Bellied Pig Association.

"Older and more responsible kids -- usually 12 and up -- can deal with pigs as pets much better than...youngsters. They have the energy and the sense of responsibility to handle their pet's needs."

If you are a truly dedicated pot-bellied pig owner, your interests may spill over into breeding pigs for sale. There are a number of registered breeders throughout the U.S. and a few in Canada.

Breeders of pot-bellies must adhere to a rigid code of ethics laid down by the North American Pot-Bellied Pig Association in order to be registered. Breeders sell and often show their pigs.

Getting Started

Adopting a pot-bellied pig is a huge commitment. You need to do your homework and learn about the nature of pigs and your responsibilities as a pet pig owner.

You will probably need to educate the veterinarian in your area if you cannot locate one who has experience with pot-bellied pigs. Local breeders or pig owners' associations are the best places to get good, reliable advice on owning and caring for a pig.

Pigs can be trained like dogs, and are actually more intelligent.

Randi Owen of Pleasant Hill, California, is a pig owner and a member of the California Pot-Bellied Pig Association. She says her pigs have been trained to obey commands like "no," "come here," "stay," and "sit."

But otherwise, they are what she jokingly calls "rough-broke." That means they spend most of their time outside doing normal piggy things. They aren't shown or bred like some of the pedigree pigs on the market.

Contact the North American Pot-Bellied Pig Association (address below) for a list of certified pig breeders in your area.

Before you adopt, ask yourself if having the equivalent of a four-year-old child running around your house for 20 years or so is something you really want.

Make sure you have enough time and space in your life for your pig. If you live in the city or an apartment, or work long hours, you should consider a different type of pet. Zoning in your area may also class pot-bellied pigs as livestock instead of pets, which may rule out keeping one in your home.

Pigs are smart, creative and easily bored -- and they need lots of space and attention.

Full-grown pot-bellied pigs weight an average of 70 to 150 pounds, with some reaching 200 pounds or more. They average three feet long and 15 inches tall. Your pig may start out small and cuddly, but keep in mind that it will get MUCH bigger!

If the sharp canine teeth are not removed, pot-bellied pigs can also inflict quite serious puncture wounds.

Pot-bellied pigs don't like to be picked up or held: unlike cats and dogs, pigs are prey, not predators. Being lifted or restrained frightens them. Also unlike cats and dogs, which have been domesticated for centuries, pigs have spent only a few generations as house pets and require time to adjust to domestic life.


North American Pot-Bellied Pigs Association
408 14th St., S.W.
Ruskin , FL   33570


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