Potbellied pigs can make wonderful companion animals, but they aren’t the right pet for everyone. Some people adopt a pet pig without fully educating themselves about the behavior and care requirements of these intelligent animals. As a consequence, potbellied pigs are surrendered to shelters and sanctuaries all over the country, not only for being a “teacup” or “mini” pig who grew too large, but for medical, circumstantial and behavioral issues. Please read “Teacup Pigs” for more information.
Pet pig considerations
With that said, potbellied pigs are smart and emotional animals who can enjoy human companionship. Many pigs like brushing, belly rubs, going on walks, and snuggling close to humans, but they still require pig companions and need to spend lots of time outdoors. They need caregivers who are knowledgeable about their care and behavior, and are committed to providing them with tender loving care and mental stimulation. Here are some things to do before adopting a potbellied pig.
Check zoning laws
First, check with local government ofﬁcials to ﬁnd out if the area where you live is zoned for potbellied pigs. Some residential zones do not allow potbellied pigs as pets. Other places allow them, but impose restrictions such as housing requirements or weight limits. If your home is part of a homeowner association (HOA), you’ll need to check the HOA rules and regulations to see if pigs are permitted.
Many people have brought pigs into their homes even though their area was not zoned for pigs, and they ended up having to give the pig up, often because a neighbor complained. You don’t want to put a pig (or yourself) through the heartbreak of being a part of your family and then having to be placed elsewhere because of a zoning issue. If you love pigs and your area isn’t zoned for piggy pets, you can always volunteer at a pig sanctuary and/or sponsor a pig or two.
Learn about pig behavior and care
Next, learn all you can about the behavior and care of potbellied pigs. Adopting a pig is not like adopting a dog. Regardless of how big or small a pig is, he or she is still a pig and will have all the behavioral characteristics of a pig. For example, they are herd animals and will try to dominate the herd, which means a pig can become aggressive toward you or your children, especially if he or she is your only pig. Potbellied pigs are also prey animals, so it requires time and patience to gain their trust and socialize them to humans.
Because potbellied pigs are very social animals, they are much happier pets if they have a pig companion. In fact, they are far less likely to become aggressive if there’s another pig in the household. So, if you do decide to adopt a pig, please consider adopting two.
You should be aware that pigs can be quite destructive not only to your house, but to your yard as well. In fact, they need plenty of time outdoors to root around, a natural pig behavior. And when they are young, they scream loudly for their food, which can cause problems with your neighbors. These behaviors don’t mean that a pig is being “bad.” He is just being who he is by nature.
Volunteer at a pig sanctuary or rescue group
If you have never spent time with these engaging animals, it’s a good idea to volunteer at a place that rescues potbellied pigs so that you can learn more about them. Volunteering for a potbellied pig rescue group or at a sanctuary not only helps those groups, but allows pig novices to get to know potbellied pigs before making the long-term commitment of adoption. You’ll learn about potbellied pig behavior, proper diet, enrichment and other facets of piggy life.
Please contact us for information on the sanctuary closest to you, or plan a trip to Best Friends to volunteer in Marshall’s Piggy Paradise. We also recommend Ironwood Pig Sanctuary as a place to volunteer.
Consider where your pig will live
Most potbellied pigs are happiest living outdoors with other pigs and with plenty of activity in their environment. Here is a list of things your pig will need for basic safety and comfort:
- A spacious yard to root and run and play in, with plenty of shade at all times of day
- Plenty of water to drink, along with a pool and wallow
- A comfortable shelter within the yard
- Secure fencing around the yard
Also, keep in mind that dogs are predators and pigs are prey animals, so you’ll need to keep your pigs secure from dogs when you are not present. Even family dogs who are familiar with a pet pig have been known to turn on the pig.
Find a pig-friendly veterinarian
Potbellied pigs require annual checkups and regular tusk and nail trims, and they can be susceptible to colds and other illnesses that require vet care. Not every veterinarian works with potbellied pigs or has pig experience, so before you adopt a pig, do some research and select an appropriate veterinarian. You’ll also need to ask if the vet is mobile, and if not, you’ll need to have a way to transport your pig to the vet’s office.
For more information about companion pigs
For more information about adopting and caring for potbellied pigs, check out the other resources in this section and these websites: