I wrote this post just weeks after we picked up our first ever 10-week old pot-bellied pig. This is my experience going through it. I’ve come along way. If you want to see my recent articles on our pigs who are now 2 years old go here.
The day after Thanksgiving 2016 we drove out just my husband and me about 45 minutes away to pick up our first mini pig. The emotions were excited and a little bit scared. There was no going back now. Did I really know what I was doing? I raised two pigs for market in my whole 32- years of living.
I have always wanted a mini pig and now that we have a country house it seems the options are endless. My husband was scrolling through craigslist and saw mini pigs for $100.
One reason I didn’t push a mini pig was that everywhere I saw was close to $1,000. I can’t spend that much money on a pet.
So we pursued it.
Check out our Mini Pig Halloween costume roundup here!
On that drive, we were excited and a little bit scared. There was no going back now. Did I really know what I was doing?
Surely I wouldn’t really know what I was doing with a mini pig- would I?
Could it be any better living in today’s world of technology? None of my friends have raised mini pigs in their home. So I couldn’t ask them. Go to the library and get a book from 5 years ago- who does that anymore?! ( okay I still do go the library for gardening books and others but not as much)
Where do we go when we don’t know how to do something? Google.
I taught myself to start a blog by Googling a LOT of it. My husband did all home repairs and more thanks to Youtube.
So, of course, I would Google about mini pigs.
But what did I learn that Google failed to share with me?
Mini Pigs are a cat and dog combined in our opinion. Take the characteristics of a begging dog that follows you everywhere you go and the characteristics of a cat that comes to you when it wants attention, and boom you have a mini pig.
It was an adjustment to get used to the fact that for the first few weeks our pig Bently didn’t want to just come by us. He didn’t want to be picked up at all. Google did tell me that one. He did climb up in our laps on the second day here, but it was on his time. Never when we called.
I have to say after having him for over a month now he follows me around just like our German Shepard Lab dog Jake. I like it. He likes it. It’s better now. Remember that mini pigs have no desire to please you as a dog does.
They will sell their souls for food. I am happy to report that in the time he has been home with me. He tends to recognize the word, No and after a couple yells of “No Bently” when he is in the cupboard he comes squealing over to us.
From my Google searching, I was under the impression that mini pigs needed a rooting box. So my super handy husband started making a pen for him indoors until we realized we would just put him in our closet. Ok, it’s a very weird long closet between the bathroom and our bedroom. It works. Our farmhouse was built in the 1850s so it has some quirks.
So we turned the bottom into a rooting box. I threw hay from the barn in there. Yes, they love munching on hay. I would throw treats in there ( only veggies in the beginning) for him to root around. The bottom was made out of plywood.
Then he started pooping and peeing in there. This was not good. I couldn’t have my porch where everyone enters our home literally smelling like a barn.
The rooting box was out.
We realized he roots around the house by sniffing around. We throw towels in his room and hide treats in there. He has quickly realized the kitchen is where I prep amazing smelling food. We hang in there a lot.
So I will hide treats around the kitchen.
They have a lot of energy like a puppy. And when they want out- they squeal and scrape at the door so loud you are forced to listen.
They are stubborn like that.
I did pick up my favorite toy for him that keeps him occupied right now when it is 9 degrees here in New York. Bently loves it and many times I will feed half his pellet food to him in it.
This will become less as the weather warms up and Bently is able to root around outside, naturally.
Check out my video of walking Bently and how Quickly he roots up an area outside.
Do Pick Your Mini Pig Up
I think it is important to get your pig used to you picking it up. We have done this with all the animals we own and as time goes on and they trust you more it gets easier. Know that a pig will squeal to its highest decibel when you pick it up. Bently is just like a child, he tests to see what will work.
Now there are times I go to pick him up after he has done something he shouldn’t and he lets out a pathetic squeal. Other times when I pick him just because I want to cuddle and he doesn’t he lets out his ear-piercing squeal that he knows causes me to put him down immediately.
It’s important to pick them up and have them know they can trust you. Pigs are prey animals so it is their instinct to squeal when being picked up since they are only off the ground in the wild when they are in danger.
It is important to pick up your mini pig the right way. Watch and learn how here.
Don’t Expect Your Pig to Like The Cold
I have found that younger pigs aren’t too fond of the cold. Once they get older it’s not their favorite but they can handle it just fine.
Our pig does not like cold weather. Our heat is set at 66 degrees and he loves hanging over the heating vents. He also loves leaning against the dryer when it is running and the oven.
We tried to get him to go outside when it was 45 degrees here in January by leading a trail of treats out the door and he wanted no part in it.
The pig passed up FOOD!
Don’t expect to take your mini pig outside if it’s cold. He is perfectly happy inside at the moment. No reason to pressure, scare and have them shivering.
The person we bought Bently from said to give a half Flintstones Kids Multivitamin with Iron daily. After doing a little research I have decided to give him this twice a week. I choose to give him more iron-rich foods. Once your pig reaches maturity they do not need supplemental iron.
After talking with a local vet they too said to remember that pigs digestive system are very similar to humans. If you wouldn’t give your kids something, don’t give it to your little piggy!
*Update: I now have two pigs who are two years old and they live outside full time now. You can read the story and how to transition your pig here.
Do Train Your Pig to Learn Sit & Come
Bently picked up things within days. It is true by just watching him how smart he is. It took about a week for him to learn to sit all the way down, but with persistence he got it. It is so important to train your pig to sit because you want him to know he has to work for food. You do not want your pig to get spoiled pig syndrome, this can be very dangerous to the whole family.
It is important to have each family member ask your pig to sit as well. This goes along with avoiding spoil pig syndrome and others have reported they would charge any family member that wasn’t the “leader”. I certainly want to be known as the leader but having small kids I do not want them to be charged at.
So each family member works with Bently on a daily basis.
“Come” is such an important one. In the beginning, when I tried to take Bently out on a harness and pull back on the leash it was an utter disaster.
Now two months later we have practiced on the leash in the house and he is much more open to the slight pull back on the leash when I tell him to “Come”.
You can watch a video below on how I take Bently for a walk with a leash.
Don’t Let Your Kids Feed A Pig From Their Hands
I started off letting the girls give Bently a treat after sitting with their hands. Although they were hesitant. After speaking with a vet she recommended to not do that because a pig’s eyesight is very poor.
They can’t see and kids always have something to smell on their hands. This will result in a pig biting their little fingers. We certainly do not want that. So the girls place the treat on the floor.
We also make sure to tell our pig “ALL DONE” and show our hands empty. He has caught on to this quickly and walks away after. Before he would keep sniffing us to see if there was more food.
Do Know Your Pig Must Learn The Word No
When I was reading I went into this pig parenting thinking this pig won’t listen to a word I say unless I feed it.
Three months later I am falling more in love with owning a mini pig. Bently knows the word no quite well. Every time he tries to open the cupboard and we tell him “No” he gets down and runs away. When he has an accident in my office and he hears my tone changing and I say” Where do you go potty?” He runs to his room.
All my Googling has said that pigs do not want to please you. I can’t help but think those little acts are somewhat wanting to please. I am glad that he knows when he is doing something wrong and will listen.
Don’t Let Your Mini Pig Have Free Range of Your House
I learned this the hard way. From day 2 we let Bently roam a majority of our house. He started peeing and pooping outside of his litter box. He doesn’t just do it on the carpet, he does it in the same spot every time. We have hardwood floors and a rug in my office and the living room.
You have to remember they have smaller bladders. It has helped by only letting him have free range for a shorter amount of time and making sure he goes back to his room.
You also just like with puppies really need to make sure you get the scent out so they do not keep going back.
We have only owned our mini pig for just over 3 months now. So I know we have much more to learn and I will be sharing more with you. Today I wanted to share with you the things I think are the most important to know in the beginning. Straight from my own experience as well.
Today I wanted to share with you the things I think are the most important to know in the beginning. Straight from my own experience as well.
I would love to know your tips and tricks for living with a mini pig.
Or if you are thinking about owning one, any questions you have please ask away in the comment section below!
Welcome! I have desired my own backyard farm since I was a girl. I started a frugal crazy couponing lifestyle that allowed us to pay off our debt, create an online business and purchase our farmhouse and land. Join me as I share everything we are learning with you to encourage and inspire your dreams.