Life With Hamlet, the House Pig!
We run a petting zoo at our farm and of course what petting zoo would be complete without a pig ? Up until last year, we had Beatrice in our petting zoo. She was a super sweet girl, and well adjusted to the traveling involved in her job. Last year she hit about 70 pound. She had never been taught to walk on a leash, so getting her to and from the jobs had become quite a chore.
It was decided that Beatrice would be retired from the petting zoo , and a new replacement found that would be trained to walk on a leash, and the biggest change of all , the new pig was going to be an indoor pig. I had heard many people are doing that now ! What better way to friendly up a new pig for the petting zoo than to have it live in the house ?
Onto Craigslist I went, hoping to find a piglet for sale. To my surprise their were a lot of them available. Ranging in price from $50 - $1500. I discovered there were a million different names for the types of smaller pigs, and another million people that were arguing that there was no such thing as pigs that stay small !
I decided that whatever pig we purchased, I would be sure to ask the owner to see the parents, so that I could get an idea of what size the piglet would grow to be.
It was about an hour and a half drive to pick him up. I was so excited and could not believe it when the woman carried him outside in a little towel ...he was tiny !!!
The breeder told us that his mother had rejected some of the piglets and that she had been bottle feeding him. He was just about a week old. She explained the brand of milk replacer she used and sent us on our way.
On the way home, we named our new friend, Hamlet. We set up a little exercise pen in the kitchen for him with lots of blankets and a litter box. We put a stuffed animal in with him , I was afraid he missed his mother and wanted him to have a friend ! I know, probably not necessary, but it made me feel better !
He settled in to his area really nicely, was very shy at first , wasn’t afraid of us, but was not seeking out attention either. He used the litter box automatically, it was like he was born litter trained.
Feeding him on the other hand, not so easy. We tried and tried and he just would not drink from the bottle. To the point I was worrying myself sick. My boyfriend suggested putting it down in a dish for him. He must have figured it out overnight, because the dish was empty the next morning.
Now that we had him settled in , he was eating well and litter trained , it was time to get to the fun stuff ! Training him to be held and leash walking.
Pigs almost always scream bloody murder when held if they aren’t used to it. We practiced holding him for short periods of time, until he calmed down, then we would put him down and feed him a cheerio as a treat.
Honey nut cherrios are the best pig training treat , they are small enough that using them as a training incentive won’t make your pig overweight.
We introduced him to the harness and leash while he was eating, pretty much had it on before he noticed it. Once he noticed it , all hell broke loose. He was screaming like we were butchering him. We just covered our ears and let him ride it out and once he chilled we made a cheerio trail to encourage him to want to move forward. Then we gradually increased the pressure on the leash until he was letting us lead him around.
When we tried to walk him outside, he was super overwhelmed and we basically had to teach him all over again. Now he is an old pro at it. He is super smart though, and sometimes depending on who is holding his leash determines how well he behaves !
It has been a year now with Hamlet , the house pig ! It has been an adventure , and I have learned so much.
Hopefully , the story of Hamlet the house pig’s first year, and the tips below will help you decided if a house pig is right for your family !
Just like any other pet , they require patience and training, the more time you spend with them the better and happier they are.
Typically pigs like being clean and only go to the bathroom in one place, so if you show them the litter box early on, it shouldn’t be hard to potty train him. You could always depending on the set up , let your pig outside to go to the bathroom . I haven’t done it that way, so I’m assuming it would be like potty training a puppy.
We have hardwood floors and they are tough enough that they don’t seem damaged by his feet. Due to the rooting nature of pigs ( they like to push things around with their noses and sort of dig through things ) , I don’t think I would let my house pig into any carpeted areas.
They are loud !!!! We made the mistake of being super regimented on Hamlet’s feeding schedule ,so he will get to ear drum bursting screams if he is in a mood and we aren’t feeding him fast enough. They make cute happy pig noises when they walk around and root, Those screams when they are hungry or mad is not so cute.
Try to find something that you can use to distract your pig if he is doing something wrong, for Hamlet it is a can full of loose change rattling, it diverts his attention and gives time to correct whatever he is doing wrong
Hamlet lives with cats and dogs and he is fine with them. I would suggest introducing them slowly so they can acclimate to sharing their territory. Which leads me to my next point….
Make sure your pig has a place to call his own, that he doesn’t have to share with other pets. That way he can have his toys, food and water there. If he gets tired of the other pets he knows he can go there and be left alone.
I would recommend making an outside play area for your pig, somewhere he can go and get some sun and dig around in the dirt. Outside time for your pig will make their behavior inside much better. They love getting to go out and feed their natural instinct to root ! That is one thing that we are working on plans for. Once we get it done, I will write another pig article about what I learned from that project.
Be sure to feed specialty pet pig food instead of hog feed, I feed Hamlet Mazuri brand feed. He likes it and has maintained a healthy weight on it. He also likes baby food of all kinds as a special treat ! Think healthy treats, fruits and veggies !
They like having toys ! Balls to roll around, ropes to tug , stuffed animals to carry around, the busier you keep them the better they will behave for you.
Hopefully, if you were considering a house pig, this helps you determine whether or not having one is right for your family. Like any other pet they require care, time and money. I think the enjoyment we get in return is well worth it !
I may not be a house pig expert, but I have a happy house pig , and to me that is all that matters !!