Over the last decade there have been more people keeping pigs as pets inside their homes. A few celebrity owners along with the breeding of miniature pigs has seen a trend for keeping these animals as pets rather than livestock. As with any animal it is important to know all the information about their temperament and care before making the decision to own one, and since pigs are more unusual pets there is less information available on keeping them. It is possible to keep any breed of pig as a pet, although it is very impractical to keep a traditional large breed because they grow so big that they would struggle to live in the average sized home. The most popular breed for a pet pig is pot-bellied pigs, as these only grow to the size of a small dog.
Pigs are very intelligent animals, certainly as intelligent as dogs. They are very curious, playful and headstrong. This definitely goes in their favour as pets as it is possible to housetrain and obedience train them. The downside to this trait is that they need plenty of stimulation and if they are left alone for too long they can become destructive. Pigs are again similar to dogs in their displays of dominance aggression, which is when they wish to be the leader of the family and may show aggressive behaviour towards humans and other pets. The owner must learn to be a strong leader to show the pig who is boss. Both their tendency to get bored and possible aggression makes getting two pigs far more desirable than a single pig. Pigs kept in groups have each other to play with and they keep each other in check making them far less likely to turn aggressive to humans. The phrase "as greedy as a pig" stands true and if you decide to have a pet pig you will soon find their appetite unrelenting. Pigs will constantly be in search of food and their intelligence means they will soon learn to open cupboards and root through bins. They also root in and dig up the ground and will destroy your garden in a matter of days. This "rooting" behaviour is natural to them and it is important they have the opportunity to display it, which means they need access to land where it does not matter how messy it gets. Although pigs like to roll around in the mud they are generally very clean animals and are not dirty or unhygienic in the slightest.
Taking care of a pet pig doesn't differ greatly from caring for a dog. They will need a balanced diet and plenty of exercise to avoid putting on too much weight, this will mean walking them daily. However unlike a dog it is not legal to feed a pig waste food or scraps from your kitchen or anywhere else. This is because the food could potentially contain diseases that could be spread to other livestock. Although this seems unlikely, it is the law and as such you must buy certain food for your pet from a special stockist. In addition to this they may need taking to the vets if they suffer with any problems. Pot-bellied pigs usually live between 15 and 20 years, so it is important to remember that getting a pet pig is a massive long-term responsibility. Pigs are social animals and enjoy contact with humans and animals. In this respect it is unfair to keep a pig alone and far better for it's health and happiness that it lives and sleeps with other creatures. This could mean you invite the pig into your bed...or more likely that you get more than one pig, or a dog.
Pigs are still considered livestock even if you are getting one as a pet. This means that there are certain legal implications you must adhere to before you bring the animal to live with you. Firstly any prospective owner must obtain a CPH number, which identifies the area that the pig will be kept. This must be applied for at least 15 days prior to getting the pig to the relevant agency, which is different depending on whether you live in England, Scotland or Wales. Once the pig is on the premises it must be registered with Animal Health, which is required by law. This can be done by phoning the local Animal Health office and requires a CPH number. The pig must also have an identification tag on the ear or a tattoo which can be done by a vet. Walking your pet pig is absolutely essential, but this cannot be done without a walking licence from the Animal Health department. Finally because pigs are livestock their movements must be recorded, for example if you visit a family friend and take the pig with you or take the pig on holiday. This means recording the date the pig was moved and where the pig was moved from and to. All of these legal requirements make getting a pet pig far more difficult than other types of pets.
There are advantages and disadvantages to getting a pet pig, as with any animal. However pet pigs are an even greater responsibility because of their long lifespan and the legal implications of owning one. If you go about getting a pig correctly then you will certainly have an amusing, entertaining and loveable pet for many years.
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