Pancetta is our pet Pot Bellied Pig. We got him in July of 1996, and our lives haven't been the same since. He was about 9 weeks old then, and he was so CUTE! Here's a picture of him trying to sample Lisa's chili when he was around 3 months old.
Almost everything you've ever heard about pigs is false, (except how they like to eat... like PIGS)! They're clean, loving and intelligent. In fact pigs are the fourth smartest animals; after humans, apes, & dolphins. (Dogs are number 11 just for comparison). Their intelligence isn't so much manifested in being able to do tricks, although they can, rather it is almost a sly, sneaky, manipulative personality that most people find appealing. (Kinda' like Nixon as a kid I guess...). They always try to have things go their way. Sometimes Pancetta pretends he has to go outside to go potty. He knows that when I want him to go out, he gets a little treat as incentive. So now, he plays this little game with me; it's like "Okay, now that I'm outside, where's my apple?"
Just to give an example of how smart pigs are, consider this:-- Besides being a pot bellied pig fan, I'm also a short-wave radio buff. I have several of them scattered around the house, including one in the living room (near where Pancetta's bed is). The radio is at floor level, but housed inside one of those glass-doored cabinets with the little "push to open" mechanisms. The TV sits on top, with a shelf below for a VCR and the short-wave radio at the bottom. There's a little magnet to keep the glass doors shut, then you press it in until a spring releases the mechanism; I'm sure you know the kind I'm talking about. Anyway, I sometimes like to turn on the short-wave to the BBC and hop in the shower. I live alone, so I leave the door open so that I can hear it. But one day, I got out and the radio was silent ... huh? I went into the living room, and the glass doors were half open ... and ever so slightly slimed by piggy saliva! Hmmm.... So I turned the radio back on and went down the hall and around the corner to spy on what would happen next. Pancetta waited until he thought he was alone, and waltzed over to the TV cabinet. He used his snout to push in the glass (hence the wet spot), and flipped the door open with his tusk in one smooth motion. Once the door was opened, he got down on his knees and fumbled with the radio with his lips until the offending sounds stopped! I suspect all the static, pops and squeals of a short-wave broadcast hurt his ears. At any rate, he obviously doesn't have any concept of an on/off switch, but he CLEARLY was able to isolate the source of his displeasure, figure out how to open the cabinet doors and turn off the radio! Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I'd have never believed it ... the only telltale signs of porcine interference was a trace of piggy slobber on the knobs and the glass doors.
He is of course totally potty trained. In fact he was pretty much trained when we got him as a pigglet. He'll stay in the house all day long just waiting for me to come home. He greets me at the door with what I call "ha-ha's". It sounds like he's laughing. This is the sound pigs make to acknowledge recognition of another "herd" member. He only does it for my daughter Lisa and I, his herd. For others he makes a kind of whimpering sound that means "I don't know you, so keep your distance."
Of course his favorite thing in the world to do is to eat. Some of his favorite foods are: apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, carrots, raisins, grapes, beer (when he can get his hooves on some) bread, popcorn, nuts.... you get the picture. So far, the only foods I've found that he doesn't like are bell peppers and turnips (can't blame him there). Pancetta weighs about 165 lbs. That's actually pretty svelte for a pot-belly. The biggest myth about Pot-bellies is that they don't get very big. Don't you believe it! Adults usually average around 120-180lbs. and sometimes weigh as much as 350lbs!
Pot-bellied pigs aren't for everyone. The first year we had Pancetta, he ploughed up my yard until it looked like a trench scene from a World War I movie with his rooting (thankfully, we have since broken him of this habit). They also require a greater emotional commitment than most pets. But mini-pigs provide a quirky, friendly, and undeniably affectionate pet that you will enjoy for 25-30 years. Plus, they won't get fleas, ticks or lice; they have no odor at all (if neutered), they only shed once per year (they lose their hair in the summer) That's when they look like miniature hippos! They get along just fine with dogs & cats, and despite what we were taught as children, they really don't like getting dirty.
I love this picture of him. It was taken when he was around 8 or 9 months old and still wasn't very big. Notice that cage in the background. It's been a long time since he was able to fit in that!
Click here for a reprinted article on owning Pot-Bellies from "Valentines Performing Pigs". This woman knows pigs!!! She trains them for a living.
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About the Breed...
Pot Bellied Pig Magazine
The Pig Store