- Do Potbellied
Pigs make good pets?
- Vietnamese Potbellied pigs
were imported into the US from Canada in1985
- to be companion pets. They
were "darlings of the media," and promoted as
- the pet of the eighties -
clean, smart, small, and affectionate. The
- first potbellies, sold for
up to $25,000!
- Ten years later, there are
sanctuaries for unwanted potbellies that are
- filled to capacity. Potbellies
are often advertised in the "For Free"
- section of newspapers, the
prices have plummeted, and occasionally, the
- pigs are even abandoned by
the roadside. What happened ?
- Of course, with any new,
exotic breed of animal, prices will fall as the
- supply meets the demand.
This goes with the territory. But, in the case
- of the potbelly, other factors
come into play.
- Potbellied pigs are very
"special" animals. If you understand their
- personalities, and quirks,
owners bond to them, like the pigs were,
- indeed, their own children.
Many owners sleep with their pigs, travel
- with their oinkers, dress
them in costumes, and share every aspect of
- their lives, with their portly
companions. Potbellies love to have their
- bellies scratched, and snuggle
with their owners. Pigs are like two year
- old children - intelligent,
curious, mischevious, and, sometimes
- manipulative. They are sensitive
creatures that can be playful, and even
- almost humorous.
- In the intelligence scale,
they are only two species away from the
- intelligence of humans!
- Unfortunately, that can be
detrimental to having a pig as a pet. The
- porker will quickly learn
to open refrigerator doors and cupboards in
- its eternal quest for food,
and outsmart its trainer by taking the
- shortest route to gratification.
Pigs learn to scream, to wake their
- owners for breakfast, beg
for food, and raid pantries. They can be
- demanding, overly sensitive,
or even neurotic. Piggies often pout, if
- challenged by humans! Their
personalities are complex. Because of this,
- pigs need a lot of discipline
and monitoring. A bored pig will root, and
- knock over house hold objects,
- Pigs are not good pets if
left home alone, with no mental stimulation.
- And, because of their intelligence,
they can be aggressive with young
- children, in their eternal
quest for treats. The good news is that pigs
- are very trainable. First,
a pig must be taught that it can trust its
- owner. Firm, gentle discipline
works well. Because of their love for
- food, positive reinforcement
is effective. Negative physical
- reinforcement is not. Pigs
have a great memory, and respond well to
- commands. Pigs are capable
of learning to slam dunk a basketball, play a
- piano, or golf, play soccer,
jump through hoops, dance, ride a
- skateboard, or skooter, and
dozens of other feats. Housebreaking comes
- very easy to pigs.
- Potbellied pigs average about
#125 at three years of age. Originally,
- they were advertised by breeders
as being around #50 at maturity. What
- few knew, was that the pig
grows, beyond the age of one year, and often
- is too large to ride in a
car to go to the vets. This problem can be
- overcome, if the owner is
dedicated, by training a pig to climb a ramp
- into the car. All pigs must
be neutered to be good pets.
- Potbellies are herd animals
with a strong pecking order. If they are
- spoiled, they often become
territorial, and aggressive towards humans,
- especially house guests.The
pigs have an instinctual urge to be "Top
- Hog," and defend their
territory. Pigs with lots of subtle, daily
- discipline, and boundaries
in the home, do not exhibit this phenonoma..
- The potbellies must be taught
the word "NO", and to respect humans.
- Porkers need time outdoors
,in a fenced yard, secure from hostile dogs.
- This cuts down on house territorialism,
and gives the pig something "to
- do". Pigs DO root, although
this often can be somewhat curtailed. They
- do not get fleas, but DO
get mange, which is easily treatable.
- All in all, pigs have the
potential to be the BEST pet, or the very
- WORST pet. It really depends
upon the expectations and efforts of the
- owners. Pigs are not small,
or easily transportable, and do not belong
- in apartments, generally.
They can be convoluted, or even aggressive.
- They get bored easily, and
knock over waste paper baskets and house hold
- objects... And, OF COURSE,
pigs will do ANYTHING for food ! That's how
- pigs got the name!
- But, if you do not expect
a pig to be anything other than a pig, a
- potbelly can be a marvelous
lifetime companion. They are adorable,
- loving, affectionate creatures
with incredible intelligence. I wouldn't
- trade mine for anything in
- Priscilla Valentine
- Priscilla travels all over
the country, full time, with her two pigs,
- "Nellie" and "Tuff
Hank," performing on stages, at fairs, and festivals.
- Her pigs, which are studio
trained, have done numerous T. V.
- commercials, and have been
featured on the Donahue and Today Shows. You
- may contact Priscilla (Valentines
Performing Pigs) At 253- 852-8662 or