What to know about ‘teacup’ pigs

The touted “teacup” pigs do not stay small. In fact, they grow to become quite large.

Baby pigs are cute. So what could be more enticing than a miniature pig that supposedly maintains that baby-pig appeal?

Many Americans (National Geographic’s number is around 1 million) are plunking down hundreds and even thousands of dollars to acquire tiny pigs as pets. The problem is, the touted “teacup” pigs do not stay small. In fact, they grow to become quite large.

Fox News in January reported on how the “overgrown swine” are packing animal shelters. Pig sanctuaries are also full.

The term teacup is deceptive, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The popular pig breed getting snatched up is generally a pot-bellied pig. In its marketing information, American Mini Pig shares: “By American and European standards all local types of Pot Bellied Pig are relatively small, ranging in weight from 80-300 pounds and 16-32 inches tall.”

Before succumbing to adorable baby pig videos on social media, thesprucepets.com offers these considerations:
1. Costs to purchase, feed, vaccinate, etc.
2. Space needed for exploration, running, rooting and more — otherwise pigs can become bored and potentially aggressive.
3. Area livestock zoning laws
4. Co-existence realities with other pets
5. Size
6. Attachment; pigs are intelligent and relational, so giving them up is emotional both for animal and human, points out Fox News.

“Owning a pig, … is entirely different than owning a cat or a dog,” asserts thesprucepets.com. “Unfortunately, many people who purchase ‘teacup’ pigs are not prepared for them to grow into full-sized adolescents and adults. When the pigs grow too large, develop health problems or display destructive behavior, they’re often surrendered to shelters or simply abandoned.”

For individuals who do decide to become mini pig owners, exotic animal veterinarian Laurie Hess of Bedford Hills, New York, advises that their pigs should be:
‒ Taught how to walk on a leash or harness because they can be strong and difficult to examine and treat.
‒ Spayed or neutered, as male pigs are sexually mature by 6 to 10 weeks of age and females by 10 to 12 weeks.