California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc

What you should know.

What You Should Know Before Adopting a Potbellied Pig

Much of our resources, as a club (and as individuals), go toward our rescue/referral efforts.  We are dedicated to helping unwanted potbellied pigs find new, loving permanent homes, as well as helping to educate the public about these wonderful companion animals.  Many potbellied pigs are bought as small cute piglets, only to be discarded when they get "too big".  Of course, there are various other reasons:  "no time","not friendly","family problems","moving","inadequate fencing", "not legal" but it all boils down to a hasty decision by an unknowing pet buyer or adopter.

Before you decide to adopt or purchase a pig, consider the following:  

Are you zoned for pig ownership?  Every city and county has its own rules about potbellied pig ownership.  Often the only laws are swine laws from the 19th Century written to control farming, but if there is a complaint or problem, these laws may be used to force the removal of your pet potbellied pig.

What are your long term plans in life?  This animal might live for 15 to 20 years.  Can you honestly commit to that length of time for you and your pet?  Many pet sitters and kennels are not prepared to deal with potbellied pigs.  Will you change jobs, homes or move across the country?  Will you retire soon, and want to travel?

Do you have a shaded, secure, fenced area outside for your pig?  Will this be a controlled area, safe enough for your pig to be unsupervised while you are at work?  Some pigs will roto-till and re-landscape your yard.  A bored pig left inside can cause serious damage to your home.  Also pigs must be kept safe from other animals.  Your own or neighborhood dogs, especially more than one, could attack and kill or injure a potbellied pig.

Can you afford annual vet care for your pig?  It will need yearly vaccines, hoof and tusk trimming.  Do you have the means to transport your pig to the vet when needed?  A truck or van will do, but it would be ideal to purchase a "live animal crate" to place in your truck or van, to haul your pig in.  Many pigs do not travel well in cars their first few times.  Also, do you have a veterinarian in your area who will treat potbellied pigs.

Are you willing to purchase the special feed appropriate for potbellied pigs?  It is not enough to "slop your hog."  Their special needs require special diets.  Are you aware that your potbellied pig may reach a weight of over 150 lbs. at 4 to 5 years of age?  This is common.  A 60 lb. mature pig is actually very rare, despite long standing myths to the contrary.  Also be aware that 100 lbs. to 150 lbs. weight is only achieved with a strict diet.  A 300 lb. potbellied pig is not uncommon if it is overfed, and a 300 lb. pig could be very difficult to transport, and it will probably suffer many health problems.

Other information that should be considered:

"Are males or females better pets?"  As long as it is neutered or spayed, it really doesn't matter.  Unspayed females suffer from "PMS" and strong mood swings.  Intact males produce a pungent odor in addition to displaying other unpleasant traits - neither are desirable pets.

Pet pigs do not like to be picked up or held.  Pigs are prey not predators, so being lifted up or restrained causes them extreme alarm.  They require time to adjust to domestic life, but with time, patience, and love, they become family.  Before bringing your new pig home, make certain it has a quiet place in which it can become adjusted to you, and you can quietly observe it.  Proceed slowly to win the pig's trust.  Let it come to you.  You can place a few treats on the floor to encourage it to explore, and then use them to coax it towards you.  Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time sitting quietly and letting the pig get to know you.  Please do not ever force your pig.  It must be a willing participant in the family, and everyone in the family should be included in training and loving it.  

In the wild, pigs forage for food.  Your pet should be able to spend time outside foraging.  It is important for the pig's overall mental health and well-being, and provides additional vitamins and minerals.  We highly recommend that your pig have access to an outside area where it can root undeterred.  It's space should be completely fenced to keep the pig in and dogs out.  Also, if you have a lawn or garden you wish to protect, make sure you build a short stout fence around it to keep your pig out.  Gardens are a favorite delicacy!

When your pig is outside,it will need shade for the summer and a warm shelter to protect it from the winter.  During the summer, it also needs a wading pool to go in to stay cool.  Pigs do not sweat, they must have access to water to cool off.  The ideal outdoor temperature range for a pig is 65-85?F.  They must also have a source of clean drinking water, separate from their pool.  Some pigs like to urinate in their pool water.  It is also very important to provide warmth in the winter.  Since these pigs originated in a tropical climate, they must have a warm, dry shelter to protect them from the cold.  Also, make sure your yard is free of poisonous plants and mushrooms.

Childproof your homeby securing cupboards, closets, and drawers to keep your pig from eating harmful or possibly poisonous substances.  Even chocolate, breakfast cereals, or salt can be toxic in large quantities.

Most pigs will lose their bristles (hair) once a year.  The time of year varies from pig to pig.  Your pig will also loose it's baby teeth at 12-15 months.  It will grow tusks regardless of it's sex.  Males grow tusks longer and faster than females.  Be careful, they can be sharp and can cause serious injury.

DO NOT OVER FEED YOUR PIG!  Pigs live to eat, and can become overweight very easily! You should usually feed 1/2 cup of potbellied pig feed twice a day.  Supplement this with vegetables.  Have your pig work for it's food and extend it's feeding time by placing it's pellets in a hollow ball, or a cube with holes.  These balls are available at pet stores.  Sprinkle plain, air-popped popcorn or puffed rice/wheat cereal around the yard to encourage the pig to forage.  This promotes exercise and mentally challenges your pig. Pigs are very smart animals.  They get bored easily, which may lead to undesirable behaviors.  Pigs are fourth in the line of intelligence:

  Humans             Primates             Dolphins             Pigs

Pigs are extremely sociable, enjoying good company,

even if it belongs to another species.