Housing and Environment for Your Mini-Pig
Mini-pigs may be housed successfully inside if they are given enough space, an area in which to root (dig), and proper environmental enrichment (see handout "Behavior of Mini-Pigs"). If forced to live in overcrowded, dirty, or confined conditions, pet pigs may become stressed and develop abnormal stereotypical behaviors that should be addressed with the help of a veterinarian.
How much space does a pot-bellied pig need?
Recommendations for housing space vary for mini-pigs depending on their size, but for pot-bellied pigs, one recommendation suggests at least 12 square meters (about 130 square feet) for two pigs, or about 0.5 square feet per kilogram of body weight per pig. Obviously, larger pigs need more space to thrive.
"If not provided with proper bedding, pigs may try to rip up carpets, blankets, or pillows to carry to their nesting area."
Pigs spend a great deal of time sleeping, so they must be provided with an area containing newspaper or brown paper in which to nest. If not provided with proper bedding, pigs may try to rip up carpets, blankets, or pillows to carry to their nesting area and are at risk of ingesting these pieces that can cause gastrointestinal obstruction.
In addition to indoor space, ideally pet pigs should have access to a safe area of untreated lawn outside in which to root and chew on grass. Pigs should be allowed to exercise (either outside or inside) twice a day for a minimum of an hour per day.
At what temperature/humidity should a pig be housed?
The temperature at which pet pigs should be kept depends on their age. Ideal temperatures for pigs are approximately 84°F (29°C) for older piglets, 75°F (24°C) for juvenile (14- to 16-week-old) pigs, and 63-77°F (17-25°C) for adults.
"If they are allowed outside, they must have access to shade and be protected from direct sunlight, or they can get overheated and sunburned."
Pigs become overheated easily, as they cannot sweat. If they are allowed outside, they must have access to shade and be protected from direct sunlight, or they can get overheated and sunburned. Pigs allowed outside in warm weather often enjoy rolling around in mud baths or splashing in kiddie pools. Ideally, pigs should be kept at a humidity of 55-70% and should have as close to a 12-hour day and 12-hour night light cycle as possible.
Can a pot-bellied pig be house-trained?
Pet pigs generally like to urinate and defecate in a single area that is far from where they eat and sleep. Unlike cats or some other mammals, they do not cover up their solid waste, so they do not need loose material in which to eliminate. Pet pigs can be trained to eliminate both inside and outside. They can be trained to urinate and defecate outside exclusively by taking them out every half an hour, starting at a young age, and allowing them to select an elimination site.
"Pet pigs generally like to urinate and defecate in a single area that is far from where they eat and sleep."
Changes in the household or bad weather may upset this training in previously trained pigs and they may need to be retrained to go exclusively outside. Pigs in urban environments may be taught to walk on a leash/harness and go outside to eliminate, like dogs. If this is not feasible, they can be trained to use a litter pan indoors by confining them to a small area during the time they regularly eliminate, and letting them have more freedom after they successfully use the pan repeatedly. Litter pans (such as large plastic storage boxes with low sides) may be filled with newspaper, pine shavings, or puppy wee-wee pads to help absorb waste.
What does it mean if my pig grunts while using the litter pan?
Pigs will generally raise their tails and arch their backs but not vocalize when they urinate. Grunting while eliminating may be a sign of discomfort from a medical problem such as a bladder stone or sludge in the bladder. Pigs that grunt and strain while urinating or have bloody urine may be suffering from a urinary tract obstruction and should be examined by a veterinarian right away. Grunting during defecation can be a sign of constipation or a more serious problem such as a rectal tumor. This sign also should be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
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