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Animals

Big Facts about Mini-Pigs

Meet the mini pigs with the biggest personalities at SARA Sanctuary. In an effort to reduce the number of abandoned mini pigs, SARA has pulled together some mini pig facts. Most people are shocked when their teacup-sized piglet turns into a 350 pound pig. Here’s what you need to know about mini pigs and how you can support unwanted mini pigs.

WHAT IS A MINI PIG?

Miniature pigs, also known as mini pigs, micro pigs, teacup pigs or even pygmy pigs, are small breeds of domestic pigs. One common misunderstanding that people have about ‘mini pigs’ is that they will always stay relatively tiny. But don’t be fooled by the name: ‘miniature pig’ is an umbrella term which, in the Pig World, encapsulates any breed of domestic pig that is under 350 pounds. Adopted mini pigs are often abandoned once they grow to a previously unexpected size and end up at animal sanctuaries like the SARA Sanctuary where they live out the rest of their days.

SOME MINI PIG BREEDS

Some breeds of miniature pigs are the American Mini Pig, American Guinea Hog, KuneKune, Juliana, Yucatan, Pot-Bellied Pig, Gottengin Mini, Hanford Mini Swine, and mixed breeds. According to National Geographic, there are between 200,000 and 1,000,000  mini pigs living in Canada and the United States. SARA Sanctuary currently houses 64 mini pigs on the property.

SIZE OF MINI PIGS

Mini pigs typically live to be 14 to 21 years old. They grow to be between 14 inches and up to 20 inches tall and usually weigh between 70 to 150 pounds. These charming creatures have a big appetite! They can consume 4 to 7 pounds of food and drink one and a half to nearly 3 gallons of water every single day.

WHAT DO MINI PIGS EAT?

Miniature pigs at SARA Sanctuary are mainly fed food pellets which contain the balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fibers and carbohydrates they need to live healthy lives. Other food favorites which our pig friends can safely guzzle are vegetables like celery, cucumbers, carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and leafy greens. Fruits such as apples, grapes and pears may also be offered, but in moderation due to their high sugar content.  

PIGS IN NUMBERS

Now let’s crunch some numbers, shall we? Pigs are undoubtedly cute, cool and sweet creatures, but require some serious investment both in time and money. To maintain a pig’s health, costs can run high. There are veterinary bills: parasite treatments, treatments for injuries, tusk or hoof trims, spay or neuter bills. Then there are the food costs, which include vitamins if needed. As well, pigs need shelter, fences and bedding.

HOW PIGS COMMUNICATE

You may have heard of a pig squeal before, but mini pigs also have other ways of communicating with each other. They can make at least 20 different types of calls, including barks, grunts and screams. Mini pigs use low-pitched grunts to contact each other, high-pitched squeals and screams indicate urgency, and barks signal alarm or play.

ARE PIGS ARE SMARTER THAN DOGS?

Mini pigs are smart. How smart? Studies have shown that pigs are at least as intelligent as dogs. “Pigs are smarter than dogs and have the capabilities of a 3-year-old toddler,” says SARA founder Tracy Frank, who has 25 years of experience with pigs at the sanctuary. A 2020 study at Pennsylvania State University demonstrated that pigs are capable of using their snouts to control a joystick-operated video game. Comparable studies have shown pigs have great memories, problem-solving skills and even learn how to use tools.

MANAGING THE MINI PIG POPULATION

Depending on the breed, pigs can become fertile as early as 3-4 months of age. The time it takes for a female pig to give birth is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. That’s easy to remember. Female pigs can give birth to 14 little piglets at a time. Due to these huge litters, unprepared mini pig owners can become overwhelmed.

IMPORTANCE OF SHELTER

Mini pigs are susceptible to cold and hot temperature extremes and require shelter which helps mitigate the temperature. You may also be wondering: do pigs sweat? The answer is: no, pigs do not sweat. To cool themselves off on a hot day, pigs enjoy a nice mud bath. Who doesn’t, right?

“SARA has 2 huge ponds where pigs can take a swim to cool off and also roll around in the mud on the banks,” says Founder Tracy Frank. The mud bath also acts as an insect repellent, sunscreen and skin conditioner as pigs tend to have dry, flakey skin. A moisturizing mud bath does the trick just fine!

Sanctuaries like SARA are often a final destination for these animals, but even the biggest sanctuaries have their limits in both capacity and financially. Educating and informing people about these challenges plays an important role in keeping animal sanctuaries (and our pig friends) alive.