In celebration of a wonderful blog I started reading earlier this year called My Mini Pet Pig, I asked its author Katie to tell us more about why she has a little piggy for a pet.
I figured having a pet pig wouldn’t be easy. And I was right. A lot of people are attracted to the idea but don’t know enough about caring for this type of animal so I asked Katie to give some advice to people who are thinking about getting a baby piggy of their own.
“I always wanted a pet pig. When I was a little girl, I used to love to see pigs at the farm and at fairs. I marvelled at how sweet and cuddly they were together.
In high school, my sister and I would go to a nearby exotic pet store and see these tiny piglets waiting to be adopted and our hearts sank when our parents told us absolutely not – the nerve.
After college, when I lived in Italy, pigs were everywhere in the countryside (undoubtedly waiting to become a fine prosciutto or pancetta). Having a pet pig in a Roman city apartment was not even a consideration. When we moved back to the States four years ago, though, I realized the dream might finally become reality.
So you see, I always wanted a pet pig. That is, I always wanted a pet pig until I actually had a pet pig.
Let me explain.
I don’t regret for a second getting a pet pig. I just wish I had known more before I convinced my husband that a mini pig would make a loving, playful and easy – supposedly incredibly easy – pet. I did my due diligence and researched and learned as much as I could about having a pet pig before we went ahead with it but I didn’t personally know anyone with a pet pig so we weren’t able to get any firsthand knowledge.
I reassured myself that having a pet mini pig would be a fun and easy adventure since I’d undoubtedly fall in love with our little snorter and that would be enough. After all, our research assured us that pigs are among the smartest animals around, they learn to potty train in days and require almost no daily maintenance. How hard could it be? Certainly no harder than a puppy and I’ve been through that many times.
Coccolino was born on June 3 and we have had him since early July.
Potty training in days? That would be laughable if it wasn’t such a prominent part of my day, even after six months with him. Potty training a pig is nothing like potty training a dog. Pigs like to go in the same spot. In Cocco’s case a nearly-new carpet in the kids’ playroom. Once they pick that spot it’s nearly impossible to convince them it isn’t an appropriate one.
Even a good enzyme cleaner has nothing on a pigheaded pig. So with my patience gradually wearing thin and my potty training time limited because of my young dependent kids, I would not hesitate to say that potty training a pet pig is anything but easy.
We were also told that pigs are friendly and easy going animals.
If Cocco didn’t squeal the second someone unfamiliar – and often familiar – approached, I might agree. He is very friendly with me and gives me special piggy kisses but it doesn’t extend much beyond that. He will cuddle with my almost four year old daughter whenever she’s sitting still but plug your ears if you walk by him and want to give him a friendly pat because his squeal may obstruct your hearing.
Video: Cocco hides in the hay
Another misconception is that people think pigs are filthy. I’m glad to say that this is an inaccurate and almost unfair assessment.
People often come into contact with farm pigs who live outdoors. Coating themselves in mud is their only defense against the sun so they are actually being smart to use their only resources to protect their sensitive skin.
Cocco, being an indoor pig, is very clean. He only pees in the same spot, albeit on the carpet when he gets a chance, and he never poops inside. My only complaint is that he has no qualms about stepping in his fresh pile of poop before coming back inside and then screaming his head off when I try to clean between his hooves.
Video: Cocco accidentally gets hold of chewing gum
As frustrating as it is to potty train Coccolino, as loud as he squeals when he’s unhappy or scared, and as much as he may step in his poop, I couldn’t imagine life without our miniature heatball. More than any other pet I’ve had, I’ve never had one that wants to cuddle more than anything else, with the exception of eating of course.
Advice if you are thinking of getting a mini pig
Ten things I wish I had known:
- They grind their teeth almost constantly during the day. Non. Stop. Grinding.
- Pigs are not for the hearing sensitive. Their horrific piercing squeal is much louder than you’d ever imagine.
- If you want to hold your mini pig, you need to really work on it. It takes patience, determination and lots of ear plugs to get through the torturous squealing when they are in the air.
- Mini pigs are smaller than farm pigs but don’t expect them to stay “mini” for too long.
- Mini pigs do not like to play, for the most part. It’s all about cuddling and eating.
- They will do anything to get a crumb. They will learn to open cabinets. They will climb into the garbage if they can reach it or rip it open if you make the mistake of leaving the garbage bag on the ground. They will tear apart your cupboards to get one teensy weensy crumb.
- They are much smarter than dogs and cats.
- Because they are so smart, they quickly learn to manipulate you. There is a thin line between rewarding a mini pig with a treat and them knowing how to take advantage of you to get that treat.
- Pigs cannot hold their bladder until they are almost a year old (minus the exception in number 10). They will have accidents everywhere and go back again in the same spot even after cleaned with the strongest enzyme cleaner. So that means gates everywhere.
- You will never find another pet that would cuddle with you 24/7, even refusing to go to the bathroom so they can stay nice and cozy in your arms. This is the only time they hold their bladder since they will never go to the bathroom where they sleep.”
About the author
A multilingual, animal loving mom of two, Katie has her master’s degree in international relations, lived abroad in Italy for six years and worked for the United Nations before settling down in upstate NY with her Italian husband, two young kids, two rescued cats and an amusingly disobedient mini pig.