Although pot bellied pigs are not as numerous in cities as during the height of their popularity in the 1990s, there are still some urban dwellers who have daydreams of walking a cute little piglet down a city street with a harness and leash. Perhaps they have seen talking pigs in movies or pot bellied pigs in sunglasses riding in convertibles on TV. However, there are realities that potential pot bellied pigs owners who live in the city should consider:
Myths about pot bellied pigs
There are myths about pot bellied pigs that are propagated by unscrupulous breeders and popular media, such as:
- Pot bellied pigs stay small throughout their lifetime. Pot bellied pigs are small compared to pigs raised for food on farms, which can reach several hundred pounds in weight. Pot bellied pigs can easily reach one hundred fifty pounds and three feet in length.
- Pot bellied pigs can be fed any kind of food. Actually, pot bellied pigs will eat anything, including drywall or kitty litter, but they need to be fed a limited diet of specially formulated food, along with fresh vegetables, or they will become obese and suffer poor health.
- Pot bellied pigs can be trained like dogs. They are as intelligent as dogs, but they lack the subservient manner that dogs possess. The phrase "pig-headed" did not originate for no reason. Their personality is more similar to that of cats. They can be trained to use a litter box, albeit a huge one, and are naturally clean, but will use the floor instead if they feel any perceived slight directed toward them.
Facts about pot bellied pigs
Although they can be very affectionate and funny, they may not be the best choice for a city pet, because:
- Access to veterinarians. Although there are some veterinarians in cities who handle pot bellied pigs, you must get them to the vet. Some pigs travel well by car, but many do not. They cannot jump as dogs or be carried as cats, and they tend to defecate—a lot—when they are nervous. Male pigs should be neutered or they become very aggressive and smell very musky. They also grow rounded tusks that protrude from the sides of their mouths. Their hooves must be trimmed periodically, or they will sustain foot damage.
- The have an instinct for rooting in the ground for food. In the absence of soil in which to root, they may tear up floor tiles or carpets, rip out phone or Internet lines, or eat your drywall.
- They are herd animals, but hierarchical in nature, and always competing for a higher position in the herd. If their herd is your family, they may become competitive with children for status in the family.
- Local zoning laws may consider them livestock, and forbid ownership within city limits.
Before considering a pot bellied pig for a city pet, first visit one of the numerous pot bellied pig sanctuaries that are filled to overflowing with former city pigs. If you feel that you can handle the job, adopt a pig from a sanctuary. Pet adoptions are always more ethical than adding to overpopulation by buying from breeders.