What is a mini pig?
The word "mini" has become the standard to differentiate between farm pigs and the smaller breeds like potbellied pigs. While that term has been accepted, I fully agree that it can be misleading to uneducated people who were never prepared for ANY sized pig. Mini is simply a class of pigs, not a breed of pigs. Potbelly is a breed. Kune is a breed. And in comparison to farm pigs, they are indeed mini. I also think that term is commonly used because most pigs are mixed breeds. They aren't any "purebred" potbellied pigs anymore. They've been mixed with ferals and kunes and other real breeds, so mini sounds better than mutt pigs. There are breeds of dogs, but when you have several breeds that are bred, what is the offspring called? What if a Dalmatian and Chihuahua breed? A Dalhuahua? How about a Saint Bernard and German Shepherd? A Saint Shepherd? Most are referred to as "my dog", no breed attached. But, the word mini will likely continue to be used to catergorize the actual breeds of pigs that someone as trying to describe as smaller than a farm type pig. Now micro and teacup and nano and pocket and micro mini? Those are unacceptable descriptions, not only are they flat out lies, but they are completely misleading. We started this website because people were searching for "mini" pigs and it made sense to name the website a commonly searched term so it showed up when anyone was looking for info for their mini pig. However, once they actually read our website, even on the home page, it let's people know why it's called mini pig info, and how that term by itself can be misleading. We dedicated a page on the website to show others what realistic sizes of "mini" pigs are. You can see their stories and pictures by clicking here.
I would much rather have started a website called www.MyPigWasSupposedToBeMiniButEndedUpBeingAFatass.com, but that was obviously too much for people to type in the browser and also not something people would be searching for. I do not condone, support or endorse breeding, though admittedly, before I even knew about pig rescues, I purchased my pig. Had I known there were people out there that brought in pregnant pigs and worked with pigs so they could be adopted? I never would've purchased the love of my life that I have now.
I do understand that some want a piglet and not a grown/mature pig. You don't have to buy a pig from a breeder if you want a piglet. Pig rescues have piglets. There are rescue networks that know about piglets that need excellent homes. There are people who have purchased piglets that quickly found out they weren't prepared for a pig and that piglet now needs a new home. Trust me when I say, piglets aren't always fun. Are they cute? Absolutely! But they are hard work. There is typically a process to adopt a pig versus buying one from someone who only cares about money. The people who have dedicated their time, resources and homes to foster these pigs have a legitimate concern about where they will go. They are emotionally vested in these pigs. So, while it may be "easier" to simply buy a pig, you are rewarding someone for bringing more potentially unwanted pigs into the world which keeps the process going and going. NOBODY can guarantee the health of your pig. Not a breeder, not a rescue, no one. ANY pig can become ill, any pig can carry traits passed along from many generations before that aren't dominant genes in other siblings or the parent pigs. If size is of the upmost importance for a pet, then a pig is likely NOT the pet for you, however, if there are city/county restrictions on the sizes of pets/pigs that are allowed, your best bet would be to rescue an older pig that is "fully grown" so there are no surorises. Just keep in mind, while the growth plates in the bones will eventually close and your pig may not get taller or longer, your pig will continue to gain weight if the diet isn't providing the amount of calories going in as the calories they're using in everyday life. Diets constantly have to be adjusted so your pig doesnt become obese. (click here to read more about nutrition) Again, had I known about pig rescues when I purchased my pig, I probably would've gotten a rescue pig instead of purchasing a pig from a breeder. To find a pig rescue, you can look at the list we have created by clicking here.
I've rescued, I've fostered, I've transported, I've volunteered at pig rescues, I've donated time and money to various pig rescues, organizations, charities and will continue to educate, advocate and help in any way possible. I do not believe there are ANY healthy super small pigs, but I do know there are people who have unrealistic expectations that they will find one. Unfortunately, 99.9999% will be disappointed and ultimately need to find that pig a home because that pig grew bigger than the little dainty cute pig they wanted, they don't understand pigs nor do they want to learn how to properly care for one. Those who have a passion for pigs and do everything in their power to help will continue to help and educate people. I truly believe it is a community effort, it's sad that not everyone takes the time to truly learn about these precious creatures BEFORE they get one, myself included.
I was an ignorant first time pig mama and my pig suffered because of that. But sharing our stories and experiences is how we all learn. I humbly shared mine as embarrassing and heartfelt it was. My pig passed away at 9 months old because of an idiot breeder, my lack of knowledge, my vets inexperience and a slew of mistakes. That never should've happened. Although he had a genetic heart defect, likely as a result of inbreeding, I take full responsibility for his death. That is also why I bought every vet book there was, collected information from others and websites and credible people and myself along with people who are much smarter than me, created a website to teach other people everything we know about pigs and how to care for them. We get private messages all day, every day with questions. People email nonstop wanting help with their pigs, they call, we help with every bit of energy we have in us. We cry with those who have sick pigs and mourn with those who lose pigs. We laugh with those whose pigs are trouble makers and brainstorm with those who need advice.
The pig community is a family, a large, sometimes dysfunctional family, but that's no different that my human blood related family. I have learned so much from other pig people and I am quite certain I will continue to learn on a daily basis. I just hate that everyone that is in the community is divided more and more everyday and having to fight with each other when it's not us who are the problem. It's the people who continue to lie, deceive and basically rob people that need to take the brunt of the hatred, not each other. In the meantime, while mini doesn't accurately describe what the size of your pig will be, it does represent a group of pigs that we have all come to know and love. So when someone says there is no such a thing as a mini pig, they're both right and wrong. There is a miniature pig, also known as a mini pig, but these pigs are anything but mini. This term only describes a class of pigs that are smaller than the farm pigs, but these do NOT describe actual breeds of pigs nor the size of the pig you will end up with. You can read more about actual breeds of pigs by clicking here. Do not add a pig to your family if you're not prepared to make a 20+ year committment to a big ball of fun because that is likely what you will end up with. The journey to get there is long and draining, but once your pig becomes part of your family, you will become a parent to an unconventional pet that will steal your heart forever.
There are some days when I look at my pig and the long list of destructive things shes done and think to myself, I do believe I have Satan's daughter living at my house. Then, I look at someone else's situation and realize how lucky I am to still have my pig by my side.
You're upset because your pig tore up your brand new floor? Look at it from another person's point of view. This person truly loved their pig and their pig did the same thing, only their pig ended up with an obstruction that was not discovered until it was too late. Be glad that your pig is still here.
You are not happy with your pig because your pig got into the kitchen cabinets and now none of your cans have labels, so you have no clue what's in them. Looking at it from soneone else's point of view, you'll soon realize that there are so many who have no food, so just to have cans of food, label or not would, be a blessing.
You are super mad because your pig practically destroyed your house while you were at work today. Again, let's look at it from someone else's life, at least you have a home. Some people have suffered great losses and cannot say the same.
There was recently a tragedy in Tenneessee and a wild fire started sweeping across the state. I am sure there were warnings, but obviously not enough time to get prepared for what was about to unfold. One family in particular, the Holme's family, was able to get themselves and most of their pets to safety, but Charles the pig was left behind. I do not want to speculate why he was left or even discuss it, but their entire property is nothing but the remains of what was once standing. NOTHING is left, nothing except for sweet Charles. This pig instictively found mud and somehow burrowed himself in it enough to survive the raging fires around him that left nothing but charred reminders in place of all their worldy possessions. EVERYTHING. Some things werent even recognizable anymore, inlcuding their home and car. But Charles made it. That is almost unbelievable to be honest. Charles did suffer some burns, likely went into shock and has had some issues with his breathing, but he is being cared for by medical professionals and seems to be doing much better as of Rob Holme's latest post.
Please keep in mind, these people lost EVERYTHING. They have no home, no car, no money, no clothes, toothbrushes, food, nothing. They lost it all. If you choose to comment on our blog, please be kind with your words. If you have never carried the baggage that this family now has to carry, don't assume you would know what you would've done and don't assume they didn't try to get him to safety. There have been some really hateful comments on some other feeds about this situation and that makes me sad. This family has endured enough pain, why intentionally try to make them feel worse? You can read about their story by clciking the link below.
Here is another story of survival that I came across. I reached out to Leslie Norton to ask for her permission to include Petunia on our blog about pigs that survived overwhelming circumstances. Here is the story of Petunia.
For 20 years I resisted my daughter's pleas for a pig, but Petunia has proved me dead wrong! We could not imagine life without her. A coworker bought a house in the country and the former owner left two mini pigs there (much to their shock!). Two days after they moved in, one of the pigs gave birth to five piglets! Over the course of the next couple of days, the sow killed four of the babies and they frantically called me about what to do with the remaining piglet. I explained about bottle feeding and newborn care. The next morning, I was handed the baby and told "here....I cannot do this" and so life with Petunia began.
Petunia had a rough beginning. But life didn't continue along on the easy road.
"As life went on, Petunia has obviously remained a part of the family. We live in Denham Springs Louisiana. In August we had a devastating flood. My daughter and I had to evacuate with our dogs in a kayak. We swam to our barn and opened our gates for our horses and goats. We have a beloved pig named Petunia, who were were forced to leave behind. With her short little legs, we thought her only chance was the house, so we put her in before we left not knowing that our place would be under water for five days. In 38 years there we had never flooded. Our hearts were broken to be kept away by the authorities and when we returned, our world was turned upside down. We lost 5 horses, 4 goats, 22 rabbits and over a hundred chickens, pheasants, and peafowl. Our house is being demolished next week actually, but somehow, someway, Petunia survived! Our miracle pig!"
What can we learn from both of these difficult situations? ALWAYS BE PREPARED! The stories above show the slightest glimpse of what these families had to suffer through. I cannot imagine having to make a difficult decison like that.
That leads us to emergency prepardedness. The time to teach your pig how to use a ramp or harness or to crate train is NOT during the emergency, but way before tragedy strikes. This will increase your pigs chance of survival tenfold.
I can't say how I would react to a situation where my pig had to be left behind in a life threatening natural disaster because, thankfully, I have never had that type of circumstance unfold. I can, however, state without a shadow of a doubt, I would struggle with loading my uncooperative pig. Not only is she a big girl, but she also isn't a fan of the car/truck. She is crate trained and I would hope she would be willing to get right in the crate, but...animals have that instinct. They know when things aren't right. They know when there are disasters headed in their direction. I am quite certain that every pig would react differently in these situations. Some may run and hide while others are more comfortable in the house in their safe area such as a crate or bedroom. But what about those who have a lot of land and their pigs are missing or hiding? How would you handle a life or death situation with YOUR pig? Would your pig be willing to get in your car without hesitation? Would you're pig be agreeable to moving into another room easily? If not; this is something we should all be prepared for.
Instead of assuming the worst in people, let's assume a pig was NOT agreeable as many wouldn't be. And the decision to leave ones pig behind was made with a heavy heart. We are all outraged. BUT, when I really think about it, MY pig would be a struggle. MY pig would NOT be agreeable and I would have an extremely difficult time in getting her IN my truck. As it stands, it takes about 3-4 people to get her in the truck. What if I only had 4 minutes to get this done while also in panic mode and trying to think of other life saving items I need to grab. This is tough. This is a tough spot to be in and I cannot imagine having to make that kind of decision. Use other people's tragedy to build a better tomorrow. Help to educate others by formulating your own emergency plan. How would you react if flood waters suddenly came to your back door? What would you do in the event of a tornado? What about fire? If your home was suddenly engulfed in flames, how would you get your pig out?
Now imagine losing everything you have and reading how disgusted people are with you for leaving your pig behind. That is probably the worst part of it is dealing with the aftermath when you have had to make the hardest decisions of your life. Delegate responsibilities to each family member so you can cut the time it takes to get all your animals together and loaded. Practice emergency drills with your family and see how long it takes you to get your animals to safety. Know where you can go, do you have family that you can stay with or a shelter that allows pigs? Keep an emergency supply kit accessible. Keep names and numbers of vets and other important information in an area you can easily get to. Crate train your pig, ramp train and harness train your pig. BE PREPARED because you never really know when you will need to be. It's always better to be overly prepared rather than not ready at all. Learn from others mistakes and try not to judge their actions. Until you have been in a life threatening crisis, you have no idea how you would react. And until you have met their pig and witnessed their interaction and relationship (because lets face it, some pigs have better relationships than others with their human family), don't judge. Know all the facts before you do.
I have joined in and expressed my outrage and disappointment in people when reading about these tragedies in past situations. But, as I said earlier, when I really think about it, I realize I am not truly prepared for an emergency either and that is definitely something I can work on. My pig hates the ramp, hates the stairs I bought for her, but she loves her crate. BUT, Who knows if she would actually get in it when her sense of impending disaster kicked in? Nonetheless, I know this has put it in a new perspective for me and has prompted me to get on the training again and get it done. I don't ever want to be forced to make a tough decision like that, but if I am, I, at the very least, want to know I did everything I could to prepare myself for disaster if it should ever find its way to my home in order to give my pig a fighting chance at survival.
Check out our page that discusses emergency prepardedness in much more detail and let's celebrate the wins! Petunia and Charles are still here with us because they had the desire and will to live. We can ALL learn something though. We can all do better and we can all be prepared. It may all fall apart in the greatest time of need, but it may very well be the extra steps you take now that are what saves your pig later.
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.