The Norman Transcript

Features

July 28, 2013

Pigs are non-traditional pets

NORMAN — When most people think of their ideal pet, a certain breed of dog or cat instantly comes to mind. However, for those who love different pets and are willing to put in a little more time and effort, a pot-bellied pig can be an ideal choice.

“Pot-bellied pigs, including mini and micro pigs, can make good indoor and outdoor pets,” said Philippa Sprake, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Pigs are social animals and each has their own personality.”

While pigs are unbelievably intelligent and undeniably adorable, there are a few things petowners should know before bringing little Wilbur home to stay.

“When it comes to deciding on a piglet, it is very important to choose one that is at least 8 weeks old, weaned and comes from a reputable breeder to ensure that it is healthy,” Sprake said. “Also, even though they are called miniature, micro pigs can still grow to around 40 pounds, and full-size or traditional pot belly pigs can reach 100 pounds or more, so it is important to see the parents of the pig you are planning on taking home to evaluate your piglet’s potential adult size.”

When it comes to training your new pot-bellied pig, remember that pigs can be as intensive a pet as dogs and as such, they need exercise and social interaction, or they may develop health and behavioral problems.

Pigs can be trained very similarly to dogs using positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training.

They also are highly food motivated, so make sure that their treats are low in calories, such as fresh fruits or vegetables, to prevent obesity.

For more information on raising a pot-bellied pig, go to vetmed.tamu.edu/

pettalk.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

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