People should consider their options thoroughly before getting a pig as a pet, as it is a very different experience from caring for more traditional household animals, a pet adoption service said last month.
Typical misconceptions about pigs are that they are dirty, smelly and germ-ridden, but these ideas are rooted in the human psyche, said a founding member of the Happy Pigs’ Home adoption service, who asked to be identified as Anita.
People’s perception of pigs is key to whether the pigs feel happy, Anita said, adding that potential owners must fully understand what a pet pig would mean to the household.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times
Families with elderly or young members should be careful, as their slower reaction times could lead to injury with a pig in the home, she said.
Pigs are extremely territorial and tend to only recognize one master for life, which could cause friction between couples, Anita said, adding that some couples have argued and even divorced over a pet pig.
Potential owners should consider emulating owners abroad and have their pigs sleep with them, she said.
Blankets are essential, as pigs do not have much hair to keep them warm, she said.
Owners should not leave food lying around and might even need to chain up their refrigerators to prevent their pet from accessing it, Anita said.
As sound pollution can be an issue, people who live in less urbanized areas or have sound-proofed homes would be more suited to owning a pet pig, she said.
Pigs are known to distance themselves from owners who cage them and as they grow and become unruly, they require larger enclosures, which generates a vicious cycle, Anita said.
Pigs are very clean, she said.
They do not have a strong body odor and prefer not to defecate where they sleep, she said, adding that the stereotypical view of dirty and smelly pigs is because owners fail to clean them.
Pigs do have a propensity to play in mud and are liable to become dirty when going outside, she said, but added that they are easy to clean because they do not have much hair.
Pigs are omnivorous, and their diet should comprise of roots, leaves, fruit, oatmeal and olive oil, Anita said, adding that piglets under three months old also need milk.
Powdered milk is also acceptable, she added.
For owners, medical fees are the prime expense, Anita said, citing the sterilization of female pigs as an example.
The surgery, which should be done by a veterinarian familiar with pig anatomy, plus the anesthetic — which must be given according to a pet’s size — means the procedure is more expensive than for more common pets, Anita said.
Pig owners should neuter or spay their pets when they are little, she said.
Pet pigs enjoy interacting with their owners and demand a lot of attention, she said, adding that they also need periodic walks, as this helps their digestion.
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