Mini-pigs that interact with and receive positive feedback from humans during the first two months of life are social and enjoy being with people. They typically have a daily routine that involves eating, drinking, eliminating, socializing, sleeping, and digging. Pigs are very intelligent and need environmental enrichment, or they can become bored and destructive. Pet pigs that are not provided with appropriate environmental enrichment or are not socialized early in life may develop stereotypical behaviors including pacing, staring, excessive drinking, hitting walls, drooling, rubbing on things excessively, and repeated licking or chewing on objects, especially metal and rope. Ideally, pigs should be allowed to root outside in untreated lawn. If they are not allowed access to an area for rooting, they may dig up floors, carpeting, or walls in your home, and chew up house plants. Pet pigs can suddenly become aggressive in response to changes within a household including a change in caretaker schedule, introduction of new pets and people, and discomfort from illness.
Pigs are omnivores that typically eat multiple small meals throughout the day. A mini-pig’s base diet should consist of a commercially available, nutritionally balanced pelleted chow formulated for mini-pigs. Different formulations are available based on the life stage of the pig. In addition to pelleted pig chow, pigs may be fed small amounts of other foods, including fresh or frozen vegetables and small amounts of fruit. Pelleted food should be offered first to help ensure it is consuming a balanced diet. The exact amount of pelleted food to feed depends on the brand being fed; most brands give general feeding recommendations calculated from their caloric content. Treats such as small pieces of succulent fruits or vegetables may be offered once or twice a day and are best used as rewards in training.
Mini-pigs may be housed successfully inside if they are given enough space, an area in which to root, and proper environmental enrichment. Ideally pet pigs should have access to a safe area of untreated lawn outside in which to root and chew on grass. Pet pigs generally like to urinate and defecate in a single area that is far from where they eat and sleep and can be trained to eliminate either inside and outside. Pigs in urban environments may be taught to walk on a leash/harness and go outside like dogs. If this is not feasible, they can be trained to use a litter pan indoors.
The most common skin problem in mini-pigs is dry skin that results from a dietary deficiency of fatty acids. In addition to dry skin, mini-pigs commonly suffer from sarcoptic mange, parakeratosis, yeast dermatitis, and sunburn. Hooves of mini-pigs grow continuously throughout life and need to be trimmed periodically. The canine teeth (tusks) of male pigs grow throughout life, while those of females stop growing at about two years of age. Starting after the pig is about a year of age and usually after giving the pig a sedative, your veterinarian will trim tusks during an examination.