Whatever you want to call them, teacup, mini, or micro, tiny little pigs do not exist.
Despite the craze for these mythical teacup pigs, the stark reality is thousands of these poor animals are abandoned every year, ending up at already overburdened sanctuaries and rescue shelters when they outgrow their purported size.
Baby pigs are cute, there’s no denying that, but that’s exactly what they are…babies. So-called mini pigs are actually potbellied pigs who are often sold under false pretenses, or underfed so that their growth is stunted. People who think they are buying a pig that will stay small forever are being fooled.
Pigs are able to breed from as young as 6 weeks old, meaning the parents of these ‘mini’ pigs could actually be piglets themselves, so their size might not be an accurate measure of how large their offspring will be in adulthood, regardless of what the breeder claims.
Potbellied pigs can continue to grow for five years and in most cases reach well over 100 pounds. Unfortunately, most people believe sellers/breeders and neglect to do their research before buying a pig, resulting in heartache for everyone when owners can no longer provide the adequate care that these intelligent animals need. There have even been cases where well meaning individuals have blindly followed their breeder’s instructions, only to end up with a severely malnourished pig that needs specialized medical care for the rest of their lives.
Compared to the average farm pig, which can weigh more than 1,000 pounds, potbellied pigs are miniature, but they are in no way the size of a teacup. Breeders are interested in one thing: your money, and they will perpetuate whatever lies necessary to get it in the hopes that by the time your ‘mini’ pig grows too large for you to handle, you’ll be too attached to it or won’t want to go through the hassle and expense of returning it and attempting to get a refund.
When the novelty wears off and the pig is fully grown, it is not uncommon for them to be turned out as strays, taken to shelters and euthanized, sent to auction, or stuck all alone in a tiny enclosure in the corner of someone’s yard.
The three most common reasons people give up their ‘mini’ pigs are:
1. The pig is not spayed or neutered, which can make them extremely unsociable, dominant and smelly.
2. They cannot handle their large size and/or behavior.
3. Zoning rules do not allow pigs to be kept as house pets.
Though pigs make wonderful companions that will live happily with humans, they love nothing more than rolling around in the mud and interacting with their fellow piggy pals. Pigs have natural digging and rooting instincts and if these instincts cannot be fulfilled, it can lead to boredom, frustration, destruction and in some cases, aggression.
If you are considering adding a potbellied pig to your family, thorough research and education is a must. They need proper nutrition, an appropriate living environment and access to quality veterinary care, and as always, adoption from a rescue center or sanctuary is the best option.
Not enough people know the truth about mini pigs and until they do, these poor innocent animals will continue to suffer the consequences of misguided consumers and unscrupulous sellers, so please spread the message widely.
Photo Credit: Vjeran Pavic