The Potbellied Pig: An Interesting Pet

Nature

The potbellied pig is a spunky, delightfully amusing animal. They are quick to protest loudly if they don't like something, but they are also apt to enchant you with heaps of pig-talk compliments over such things as excellent dinners or a really good backscratch. Such pleasant communications add to their charm. They become fond of their owners, recognizing one person from another. If a pig doesn't trust a stranger it will quickly hide, refusing to come out until it feels it is safe to do so. It may be difficult at first to make friends with your newly purchased piglet, but patience and gentleness will be rewarded.

Female pigs make better pets, although someone who has kept a lot of pigs may get along all right with a male. Males tend to have strong odors which are completely lacking in the females, and male potbellied pigs have tusks, while females do not. Both males and females like to be outdoors, and will be happy if given dirt to root around in. Rooting is natural pig behavior and should be allowed within a designated place.

Pigs can bite, and some do.  My pig (pictured above) never bit me at all, but that's not to say I've never been bitten.  It only takes once before you learn that if a pig snaps at you, you need to move quickly.  The old saying applies, "Make sure they bite where you used to be, not where you are."  If a pig makes a noise that sounds like in inward, "Ho, ho, ho, ho" you would be wise to exit the pen until it calms down unless you've had a great deal of experience with them.  An experienced potbellied pig handler (NEVER with farm pigs) can sometimes talk them into becoming more calm by using a soothing and gentle voice and a soft stroking touch.  I wouldn't recommend attempting it for any newbie.

Although pigs will learn to accept treats from your hand, you will have to be very careful doing this, and again, do at your own risk.  My pigs would accept a dog biscuit from my hand on a daily basis, but I had been around horses and other large animals and knew how to give a treat without being bitten.  For someone that's new to large animals, I would say to put the treat into a bowl and step back.  Your pig will thank you with grateful grunts and will quickly consume it and then ask you, in pig talk, if you've got any more.

Bedding

Pigs like to make beds. They are skilled at this, and will spend hours arranging whatever kind of bedding you give them. Since they tend to nibble and consume bits of bedding, I do not recommend giving them blankets. Clean, fresh straw is often well received. You can also use wood shavings, but avoid cedar shavings, which are potentially toxic to many animals. Change the bedding when soiled, and clean the enclosure daily to prevent the buildup of waste which will result in an unpleasant smell that can be easily avoided. Start a compost area if you have the space, or you can also seal up the waste in a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage. Either way, a clean pigpen makes a happy owner!

Housing

Pigs need shade. It is cruel to expose any animal to excessive sunlight, but this is especially true of pigs because they have little to no protective coat and they are not capable of sweating. Make sure their enclosure has adequate shade overhead.  A UV blocking dog kennel shade is ideal.

Pigs also need shelter. Small pigs do well in a large doghouse and will often root their bedding into it and then bury themselves for a nap.

Pigs will want water to wallow and bathe in, and you should change the water daily.  Low, flat pans made of cured rubber or PVC are available at most farm stores, and are great for providing drinking and bathing water.  Never let it get empty for even a short time, as per above need to cool during sunlight hours.

Fencing

Very small pigs (under 25 pounds) are often able to be kept within a chain link dog kennel, although you will have to check it daily for breaks and mend them.  Pigs are escape artists, and if your particular pig becomes too strong for its fencing you are going to have a problem, as they will quickly run to the neighbor's yard and root all the grass up.  Fences can be re-enforced with such things as sections of hog panel when needed, and a responsible pig owner will be vigilant to watch for places where the pigs may try to dig under the fence.  Such places can sometimes be filled with large rocks, although even a tiny pig can often move a very heavy rock with one swipe of its nose.

Benefits

Besides being amusing, potbellied pigs are also great mouse chasers. Though admittedly not as good at catching mice as a cat, they can and do chase, dig up, and eat rodents. They also eat grubs and are sworn enemies of snakes, good news for any snake phobics who like piggies.

Pigs have a unique outlook on life. Being around them is relaxing, and one seems to pick up on their vibrant sense of enjoyment in almost everything they experience. Petting one is a lot of fun, because the pig gives you continual feedback in the form of satisfied grunts. Their little squeaks and other noises are delightful. They like each other's company and that of their owner. They will sometimes even "bark" at a stranger in the yard. They can learn games and tricks if you are patient enough. Learning how to deal with their sometimes volatile personality and quick temper can be a good lesson in how to weather and even laugh off similar human antics in individuals who may not have the best or most naturally even-tempered mindsets. A pig "fit" is usually very short lived, and they are quick to forgive again. They love treats, and seem to hold to the creed that "if you bring good food, you are a really good person." Often one or two treats later they have forgotten all about why they were upset (perhaps a vaccination?).  And though they may not be the prettiest of pets, they do have pretty eyes.

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Comments 25 comments

Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Potbellied pigs can easily be housebroken; however, having seen them live both in the house and out, it is my opinion that the pigs are happier outdoors.


mod2vint profile image

mod2vint 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

We were thinking of getting one, but changed our minds and got 4 pet chickens, which have just started laying eggs. Great Hub!


wilmkr profile image

wilmkr 6 years ago from Nigeria

I usually saw Pigs as one of those domestic farm animals raised for food. But your hub has given me a new insight.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

I have a friend who had a pot bellied pig for a pet; he was just like a dog, and his name was Otis! He was awesome............. I wouldn't mind having one myself, but I think the dogs would object........... so I guess that's easy to say because it will NEVER happen..........

Thanks for a great Hub!

Kaie


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

That was really informative Silver Poet. I have occasionally thought it might be nice to adopt a pig but now I'm a little put off by the 'inward ho ho ho ho' thing. Still I suppose dogs carry the same risk of biting.... I'm not sure if it's true but I remember reading somewhere that pigs are more intelligent.

Pigs may not be conventionally pretty but they have...J'en sais qua!


valbond profile image

valbond 6 years ago from UK

A really entertaining and informative read. Are these much different to vietnamese potbellied pigs?


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

valbond:

Yes, these are Vietnamese potbellied pigs, although in my locality most folks have dropped the nationality from the name in favor of just calling them "potbellied pigs." They have also experimented with cross breeding them with other varieties, so we have ended up with a gentle pig, not too big, with a less noticeable pot belly than their original ancestors.


kuboje 6 years ago

What I know are pigs in general can only be found in farms. This Potbellied Pig has proved with its lovely & unique characteristics it can be a pet, which is quite amazing. Thanks for sharing!


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Thanks, kuboje. Even farm pigs are smarter than most folks give them credit for and prefer to be clean when possible.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I've had lots of real pigs. People don't realize how smart they are!


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Quite so, Habee.


chrisrod 4 years ago

hi there... nice article... and i agree there little noises are hilaroius. i myself am the proud owner of a 2yrold male Pot belly... Preston Arnold. he is wonderful but lately i feel as if I'm not mentally stimiulating him. Do you have any suggestions on games to possibly play with him?


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 4 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Hello, chrisrod!

Most piggies like to play hide and seek. Place a raisin or other small treat underneath an object such as toy or a blanket, then watch your pig root around and find it! You can make the hunt increasingly more complicated, even hiding several pieces among a maze of locations and pig safe objects.


amanda 4 years ago

i have a pot bellied pig named annabelle (come check her out on facebook.com/littleannabelle and i must say .. she has been the greatest blessing ever! She is super smart and such a quick learner.. she is completley domesticated .. she lives in my house and after a few child locks on cabinets and draws she is feel to roam around as she pleases.. shes a veryy good girl and she is potty trained in and out .. (inn for peepee out for poops) i just taught her the other day how to give hoof (give paw) after a few cheerios she learned in 20 mins lol.. she gives kissed and snuggles in be with me at night.. even lets me clean her eyes hooves belly and butt with wet wipes with no problem ! i recommend anyone geeting one .. there amazing !!! just remember.. any animal is capable of biting you .. it all depends on how you treat any animal.. and pigs hold grudges!! so they will remember if you treat them bad!!


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 4 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Amanda:

I'm so glad you're having fun with your piggy! Good luck to you. And you're right about the grudges.


Jacqui 4 years ago

I have a potbellied pig named Zoey. She is 3 years old & lives in my house, but has free range of 2 hectares during the day. She is friendly with my horses, but I worry that she may need a pig friend, or that she is lonely as I do not have a lot of time during the day to do "piggie" things with her. Do you think she would accept another pig now?


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 4 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Hello Jacqui! Although there are no guarantees, your pig would probably enjoy a companion. You might run into trouble if you adopt a full grown boar, but a young female would look up to her and they would likely form a strong herding bond.


Cterwilliger77 profile image

Cterwilliger77 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

I adopted a 6wk old female pot belly on 5/9/12 who was the sweetest as can be and probably thought she was a human. She was potty trained AND learned to sit within 2 days. After much thought, we were worried she would get bored and want companionship since we always bought animals in pairs. We adopted her sister 2 weeks later who has been living outdoors. Even though they were sisters and had only been apart for a short time, they fought terribly to the point where they were bleeding. The ONLY way to break them up was to use a water bottle and spray them. After 4 days, they are inseparable but now now I feel like our first pig isn't as affectionate with me as she used to be. :@/ I know it's going to sound funny but she acts more pig like and wants to copy everything her sister does which is more out doors stuff that never interested her before. What can I do to bring that closer bond back? Also, why don't my pigs like to be picked up. I hate to hear them squeal/cry when I pick them up and read you shouldn't put them down right away when they do because they will learn if they do that, you will put them down.


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 4 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

That's the dilemma about getting your pig a playmate or two: they may be more interested in their pig friends than in their human friends. Since I worked a lot and didn't want my pig to be lonely, I was perfectly fine with her liking her friend more than me.

I'm sorry to hear your pigs fought! Among herd animals some initial fighting is normal until they establish a pecking order. In fact with some herds and flocks fighting will take place every spring to see if the leader will be replaced or will remain leader for the next year. Sounds like your pigs worked it out. I'm surprised they needed to do this after only two weeks.

Since the sister who was raised outdoors seems to be leading, one way you might bring your little pig closer to you again is to befriend the new pig. If the leader says you're a good person, the follower will likely also agree.

Squealing is normal. One way to hold a pig without having it squeal is to allow it to climb onto your lap voluntarily or to allow it to jump onto the sofa and sleep by you.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

My daughter used to raise hogs when she was in FFA all through middle and high school. Each year the hog became her pet and time for the fair it was always sad. Because we knew our sweet hog would go off to the slaughter house.

She has always wanted a potbellied pig and is looking in to getting one now that she has a place where she can keep one.

I do so much appreciate all of the helpful information you have given as to care of the new potbellied member of a family.

Sending you angels this evening :) ps


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 3 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

pstraubie:

Thanks for your encouraging input! I hope your daughter finds the right pig and has loads of fun with it!


patti 3 years ago

I have a pot bellie pig who is 1 yr old. he loves me to scratch his bellie then out of nowhere will act like he is going to bite me. What is going on its so random?


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 3 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

Good question! Pigs are unpredictable. If you are aware that he may suddenly change moods, be ready to avoid a bite at a split second's notice. Pay attention to how and where you scratch him when he shows aggression, and see if you can find any pattern or if you can note a certain location that's more sensitive, maybe one that should be avoided. Good luck!


Lisa Johnson 3 years ago

How do I know if my 7 week old pot belly female is lonely ?


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 3 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer Author

If your pig sits around moping instead of being busily active in her environment the problem might be loneliness. However, if you are able to give her lots of time and attention she will probably do just fine. Thanks for your comment!

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