The words ‘miniature’ and ‘pig’, when put together, often puts a picture in our minds of a ‘Babe-esque’ little pig. Incredibly cute, perfectly pink and any other associated generalisations you can think of. Yes, these kinds of pigs do exist (as babies), but no, not all miniature pigs will look like this.
It’s important to say from the start that there is no particular breed called a ‘miniature pig’. It is up to the breeder what they call their miniature pigs, the different names do not determine their size. What it does mean is that they are bred down from the original, in a similar way to mini goats, mini ponies, mini horses and mini cattle. But how much smaller? Well that is where people can get caught out.
You may have heard of the term ‘teacup’ pig. These are simply babies and will grow to be larger, and of course will not actually fit into a tea cup. In Australia, the miniature pigs we breed can grow to be 90kg+ (big enough to squash your tea cup), although some are a slim 40-60kg (a large sized dog). It’s important to remember that the word ‘miniature’ just means they are smaller than the original animal. The Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig is a popular breed in the US, however it isn’t allowed to be brought into Australia.
So what do I do if I want a small pig to keep as a pet? You need to contact their breeder and ask to see the parents as this will give you some idea about the size they will grow into. Unfortunately like some humans, the kids can actually outgrow their parents so don’t feel like you were ripped off if your pig turns out to be slightly larger than once thought.
Of course, if you want to get a pig there are numerous things to consider.
1. The boring stuff – check with your local council. Some councils won’t let you keep pigs even in rural areas, so it pays to check first. From there, you need to check with the Department of Primary Industries for laws about keeping pigs as pets.
2. Make contact with a miniature pig owner and have a good old chat with them about their personality traits and care.
3. Pigs can’t sweat so you need to ensure they have good access to shade and a dirt/mud bath where they can cool off easily. A strong and sturdy fence is necessary too, pigs are escape artists!
4. Pigs are one of the more intelligent species and require mental stimulation. They are a very clean animal, however, they love to upturn and dig things up so you may find your yard looks like a pigsty. You can develop an incredibly strong bond with a pig but you need to earn their trust. They love tummy rubs and scratching.
As a fun fact to finish off with, did you know that 48 pigs were used in the making of ‘Babe’? This gives you some idea about how quickly pigs can grow, and that they may not stay that ‘miniature’ for too long.