Keeping pigs as pets is not a new phenomenon, but one which has, thanks to the introduction of the micro pig breeds as well as some celebrity owners, become increasingly fashionable. Owners will tell you of their affection and intelligence, and in actual fact these animals are not the stereotypical smelly, dirty creatures many believe. Covered in hair rather than fur, pigs are usually hypoallergenic pets too, but of course this cannot be guaranteed, so it is worth spending time with the breeder to watch for reactions if you or your family are likely to suffer.
Of course, you are unlikely to want a huge boar roaming around the house, but smaller breeds, such as the Vietnamese Pot Bellied, will usually grow no larger than a large breed dog. Micro pigs have been bred for their especially small size, and for the most part will likely stay smaller, but it is understandably hard to guarantee this and just how large they will grow.
Keeping pigs is not on a par with some pet care however, and if it is something that interests you, it is so important to do your research and make sure you are prepared to be a fully responsible pet owner. Pigs have quite extensive needs, and you must consider carefully if such a pet will suit your lifestyle.
Pigs are fairly biddable, responding well to positive reinforcement and training, much like dogs, and also have a need to assert dominance, so will need to be fairly firmly guided. They are intelligent, and playful, and can live for up to 25 years, making this species quite a commitment. Although they will happily live inside, pigs really do need access to outside space, and once toilet trained will much prefer to use an outside space. An inbuilt desire to root around will also be well served by access to the outdoors, as otherwise your pig will root in your carpets, bins, beds and anywhere else there may be a hint of food! Many breeders recommend a pig ark, not dissimilar to a very large hutch, to allow them shelter and a home outdoors, and some owners combine this with some indoor access. You will need to provide some shelter if your pigs are outdoors as they are very sensitive to temperature; the traditional image of wallowing pigs is actually related to self cooling as they do not sweat and use this to regulate body temperature.
To put you off your bacon, pigs are very intelligent, requiring plenty of stimulation to keep them content, and will likely thrive in a pair rather than as a single pet. Feeding is important too. Speak to your breeder or vet about suitable foodstuffs, which usually come as a commercially prepared variety. Kitchen slops are not suitable for pet pigs, and there are strict rules governing what can and cannot be fed to all pigs and livestock following prohibitions put in place after the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001. Vaccinations and neutering also apply, so it is a sensible idea to ensure you are fairly close to a good, pig friendly vet who will be able to provide all the services your pig needs.
There are very precise regulations concerning the keeping of any livestock; including pet pigs which are by law considered farm animals, and this affects moving them, keeping them, and their general health. You must register with DEFRA, who have full details on their website, and comply with a variety of regulations.
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