I currently have a mini pig curled up on my lap. So clearly I’m not getting anything done today.
We adopted a Juliana mini pig in February, which prompted exclamations of delight from some and confused expressions from most. Not a lot of people understood why bacon lovers like us would want the pre-cooked version running around our house, rooting in our garden, and peeing on our carpet. (To be fair, no one likes potty-training.)
Jerod was pretty reluctant at first. I’ve been the one enamored with mini pigs for a few years, and nothing put a smile on my face like a teacup pig fresh from Google Images. (Teacup pigs are a myth, by the way. More on that later.) So with a little convincing and a LOT of saving (mini pigs aren’t cheap), I was finally able to get Sir Pompey Moofus the Third (Moo, for short). We went through a private breeder, who was amazing to work with and provided a lot of my base knowledge on how to raise and keep a pig.
Since Moo is more than 6 months old now, and people have loved following his progress on Instagram, I figured I’d write a behind-the-scenes blog post about what it’s like to own a mini pig. Overall, the experience is pretty awesome — I’d give it two thumbs up. But there’s also a LOT of hard work involved, more than I expected at first.
Julianas are the smallest (healthy) breed of pig. I throw “healthy” in there because mini pigs cannot and should not remain teeny tiny teacup size. The only way pigs are kept that small is if they are
undernourished starved. That’s animal abuse and that is NOT OK. That being said, Julianas can vary in size. Right now, Moo is 25 pounds. He is going to grow for 2.5 more years. So in theory, he’s going to be a big boy. Which is why my breeder strongly recommended that we live in a house with a fenced yard before bringing Moo home. Pigs are big and need space, even when they are babies.
Apartment living is not ideal for pigs or pig owners. Not only because of the space issue, but because pigs are loud. Like, REALLY loud. When Moo is mad, he sounds like an angry baby crossed with a smoke alarm. Pigs can scream at 115 decibels. To put that in perspective: the sound of a jet engine is around 113 decibels. It’s funny for about the first 2 minutes, but when Moo is screaming an hour after I put him to bed and I can’t sleep, it gets old really fast.
Fortunately, Moo has acclimated to home life, but it took him a couple months to even begin to trust me. Pigs tend to primarily attach to one person in its family, so in our situation, I became Moo’s Person. But in the beginning, Moo wouldn’t let me pick him up. I got peed and pooped on. He was skittish and ran around the house screaming bloody pork murder when it was time to go to bed. Pigs are used to being hunted in the wild, so their automatic instinct is to run for dear life when a giant reaches down to pick them up (I guess that would be my automatic response, too, come to think of it). It’s VERY discouraging to try to bond with an animal that doesn’t trust you. But once Moo got into the rhythm of our routine and realized that he was safe, he became more affectionate and interactive.
Pig affection = pain. That is the 100% unsensored truth. In order for Moo to climb into my lap, he uses his hooves (obviously). Which are SHARP. Way different than the soft pads of a dog or a cat. And when he wants to snuggle, he roots his snout into whatever body part is closest to his face, which is usually my bicep or my ribs. Pigs use their snouts to dig things up and push dirt around, so that part of their body is very strong. Having a snout dug into your ribs is not a pleasant feeling, but the upside is that I know he’s trying to say, “I love you, now pay attention and scratch my belly.” I’ve come to deal with the discomfort of being trodden upon in exchange for the bonding time with Moo. Although, once he’s on my lap, I’m pretty committed to staying in one spot for a while. Did I mention he’s 25 pounds with spikes for feet? He gets what he wants.
Moo is incredibly smart. But he’s also crazy stubborn. This makes him extremely hard to train, but consistent training is so worth the effort because he won’t forget what he’s learned. He chooses to understand the commands “No!”, “Outside,” “Bed,” and “Come” about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he is playing dumb. The only words he understands 100% of the time are his name and “Good boy!” (because it’s usually accompanied with a treat). It’s equally fantastic and infuriating to own the fourth-smartest animal in the world (behind dolphins, chimps, and elephants).
This is the sweetened condensed version of life with a mini pig. I’m certain I am forgetting a bunch of answers to FAQs I’ve received since February. Let me know if you have questions about mini pigs and I’ll answer them in an upcoming post!