Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
These are the most common pet pigs; adult weight ranges from 50 to 200 pounds. Lifespan is probably 15 to 20 years in captivity. They may be able to breed as young as 8 weeks (males) to 16 weeks (females) but do not reach emotional maturity until 3 to 5 years of age.
Unspayed female pigs will cycle about every 3 weeks, and are prone to crankiness (think PMS). Unneutered males are aggressive and have a strong odor.
Whether neutered or not, males grow tusks that are generally kept trimmed. Females may have small tusks that are usually left alone.
Their legs are fairly fine boned compared to their body weight. NEVER grab a pig by the leg! You may cause permanent damage to a leg with one grab, and 3-legged piggies do not do well.
There will be a wide variation in their level of socialization to humans and other animals. Pigs that have not been held frequently since infancy can out scream a jetliner when picked up; if you must pick one up, wear earplugs and support the body without stressing the legs. Herding and restraining them on the floor is better.
Obesity is a major issue for these animals and we do NOT want to feed them the same chows we feed farm pigs - you know, the ones designed for rapid weight gain. PBP should have PBP diet if we can get it for them or bring it out with them when they are evacuated.
They will eat leafy greens, including dandelion greens, fruits, and vegetables. They have a serious sweet tooth, so do NOT give them sweets. They should not be fed dog or cat food but they can have grass hay. No avocados, no raisins please. Raisin toxicity has now shown up in dogs, cats, and ferrets and until more is known about the specific mechanism, we should not give them to any critters in our care. Avocados are toxic to just about everyone but humans.
Pigs will root, that is their essential nature. They can dig out under the stall door of the dirt-floored horse barn stalls unless the stall has a sturdy wooden sill. What hog panels we have available should be reserved for the pigs. If we have the use of the fairgrounds, put pigs in the pig barn - cement floors, cool, good fencing.
Pigs like a wallow or a wading pool to keep cool - they cannot sweat, and they are very susceptible to heat. They also need shelter from rain or cold. They are very susceptible to stress.
Never try to tie a pig to something. We do not use hog snares on PBPs. Some PBPs are trained to walk on harness and leash, some are not.
Pigs are smart, and they have a hierarchical society. They may very well try to challenge your authority. When provoked, they will lower their head, growl, and shake their head side to side with an upward slash movement. Yes, they can bite.
Market pigs generally weigh in at 250 pounds or so, but those kept for breeding stock may tip the scales at 500 to 600 pounds. They eat commercial pig rations. They need fresh drinking water at all times. They are susceptible to heat, cold, and stress.
Best way to move them is with canes or panels; hog snares may be used for restraint. Remember that they pull back against a loop around their snout, so don't expect to lead them with one!