Whether they're called micro, teacup, toy, miniature or some other sort of diminutive, mini pigs are a risky pet bet. That's because many of these porcine pets will grow far larger than advertised, and end up at shelters or sanctuaries. Micro pigs are simply not good pets for most people. If you rescue an adult pig, at least you'll know his size.
Micro pigs result when runts are bred together, or when runts and other small porcines such as Vietnamese potbellied pigs are bred to produce litters for a micro pig market. Some breeders practice inbreeding and underfeeding, severely impacting health and longevity. Realistically, even miniature pigs might weigh 60 pounds as adults -- the same as a medium-size dog. However, there's a good chance they could weigh two or three times that or more.
Be Careful in the Micro Pig Market
If a breeder tells you his pig will weigh only 12 or 15 pounds full-grown, look elsewhere. If you're told pigs make wonderful pets for apartment dwellers, find another breeder. Ask to see the parents of any pig you are considering, and ask the parents' ages: Even micro pigs don't reach full size until the age of 3 -- parents younger than that still have growing to do, so they're not accurate identifiers of your potential specimen's ultimate size.
Feeding Micro Pigs
It's possible a breeder will advise you to underfeed a micro pig to keep it small. That's simply starving the animal. Feed your pig commercial pig chow at the correct proportion. A rule of thumb is about 2 percent of body weight daily. Your exotic pet vet can advise you on the right amount of food for your pig.
You can feed your pig healthy snacks -- pigs will eat nearly anything -- but don't overdo it or the pig will grow too large. Provide your pig with fatty acid supplements for skin health, as porcine skin dries easily. Pigs should always have access to fresh, clean water.
Not every vet takes on pigs as patients. You may have to find an exotic animal vet, which can mean exotically high prices for veterinary care. You'll need to have your vet spay or neuter your pig. Intact male pigs are not suitable pets, as they quickly become aggressive. Unspayed female pigs often develop reproductive system cancers. A pet pig will require vaccinations, including those for rabies, bordetella, erysipelas and pasteurella, and will need deworming for intestinal parasites.
Your pig's hooves require regular trimming, which you can learn to do yourself or have your vet perform. Tusks need trimming, too. Unless your pig is extremely dirty, resist the urge to bathe him. That only increases the odds of dry skin. Older pigs are prone to arthritis, especially if overweight.
While micro pigs can live in the house, they need access to a fenced backyard or outdoor pen. A fence keeps your pig within the boundaries and keeps stray dogs out. In hot weather, provide your mini pig with a child's wading pool to stay cool. Since pigs are herd animals, it's best to have more than one -- but other companion pets can fill the bill.
Indoors, pigs need a comfortable sleeping area that's free of drafts. While pigs can be house-trained, the task is not especially easy because they are creatures of habit. They learn to go outside several times a day at the exact same times, and they "go" in the same place. Change the routine, and you've got problems.