10 things to consider before getting a pig as a pet

Pigs have become popular pets in recent years, due to celebrities like Miley Cyrus and George Clooney adopting these lovable animals into their families. However, pigs are extremely high maintenance, and not everyone is suited to responsibly maintaining and caring for a pet pig. Here are 10 facts to help you make your decision if you’re considering keeping a pig as a pet…

1. Permits
Pigs are classified as herd animals and have specific requirements that must be met before they can be kept on an urban property. They require a large roaming space and are quite noisy, so they won’t be found in your average suburban home. A permit from the local municipality should be acquired before adopting a pig.

 2. The perfect enclosure
Pigs need a large yard to roam and a pond to wallow in. This is because they don’t have sweat glands and aren’t able to cool themselves down when they overheat, and so require water to do so. They’re also very sensitive to sunlight, especially those with white and pink skins, so a shady place to rest is a must. A sturdy enclosure is a necessity when keeping a pig as a pet, as they are strong and notorious for escaping their enclosures.

3. Unpredictable geniuses
Pigs are incredibly intelligent and curious. They can be potty-trained, can respond on cue, learn their names and even open fridge doors! However, this also means that they can get up to mischief, if left unchecked. Pigs have been known to raid fridges or destroy gardens and objects around the home when they have temper tantrums.

4. Keeping them occupied
A pig’s destructive tendencies usually stem from boredom or loneliness. They’re very social creatures and ensuring that they have another pig playmate keeps them from destroying your garden.

5. Great pets
Pigs get along well with other kinds of animals. They love attention, good belly rubs and scratches, and even enjoy a simple conversation with their humans. What’s more, they can be trained to use a litter box.

6. Not for green fingers
If you’re very passionate about gardening and like to keep a pristine yard, then keeping a pet pig probably isn’t for you. Pigs need to graze and roam around, and their curiosity doesn’t bode well for pretty flowerbeds.

7. Diet
While pigs eat essentially anything, a moderate diet should be maintained to keep them healthy. Their meals should be high in fibre to prevent constipation, and low in fat. Owners tend to over-feed pigs, which can lead to obesity and other health problems. They should be fed 3% of their weight in food, and this amount should be spread out over daily feedings. Fruits and vegetables are good to include in meals, but owners should refrain from feeding their pigs dog pellets or dairy products.

8. Health factors
Pigs are sensitive to temperature change and are prone to both hypothermia and hyperthermia. Their most comfortable temperature range is 21-23°C.

9. Sterilisation
Vets recommend that pigs be sterilised if they are to be kept as pets. If not, boars can show very aggressive behavioural tendencies when wanting to mate, and sows become extremely moody and loud during heats.

10. Training
Pigs are easily trainable and respond incredibly well to positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement isn’t advised when training pigs, because they can get aggressive or temperamental. No animal should ever be punished physically. Training from a young age is recommended, especially if the owner wants to be able to regularly pick up the pig.

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